Organic carbon burial efficiency in lake sediments controlled by oxygen exposure time and sediment source

Sobek, Sebastian, Edith Durisch-Kaiser, Roland Zurbr├╝gg, Nuttakan Wongfun, Martin Wessels, Natacha Pasche, Bernhard Wehrli

Limnol. Oceanogr., 54(6), 2009, 2243-2254 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2009.54.6.2243

ABSTRACT: We compared the burial efficiency of organic carbon (buried OC: deposited OC) in a diverse set of 27 different sediments from 11 lakes, focusing on the potential effects of organic matter source, oxygen exposure, and protective sorption of OC onto mineral surfaces. Average OC burial efficiency was high (mean 48%), and it was particularly high in sediments receiving high input of allochthonous organic matter (mean 67%). Further, OC burial efficiency was strongly negatively related to the oxygen exposure time, again particularly so in sediments receiving high allochthonous loads. On the other hand, OC burial efficiency was not related to the mineral surface area, which was used as a proxy of the sorption capacity of the mineral phase for OC. The high OC burial efficiency in many lake sediments can thus be attributed to the frequent and significant input of allochthonous organic matter to lakes, as well as to a strong dependence of OC burial efficiency on oxygen exposure time. This study demonstrates that the carbon sink in lake sediments alters the OC export from the continents to the sea and that the fate of OC in lake sediments (burial vs. mineralization to carbon dioxide and methane) is highly sensitive to environmental conditions.

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