Virginia Institute of Marine Science
The global export of organic carbon (OC) is intimately linked to the total flux of terrestrial sediment to the ocean, with the continental margins receiving similar to 90% of the sediment generated by erosion on land. Recent studies suggest that a substantial amount of particulate OC (POC) might escape from the shelf and be exported to the continental slope-deep sea sector, although the mechanisms and magnitude of such deep sea POC transfer remain unknown. Here we investigate hyperpycnal flow-associated total suspended matter (TSM) collected from water depths of similar to 3000 m, near the bottom of sea floor, in the Gaoping Submarine Canyon (GSC) off southwestern Taiwan. Elemental (C, N), isotopic (delta C-13, delta N-15) and biomarker compositions of TSM were investigated to understand its biogeochemical characteristics. A two end-member delta C-13 mixing model indicates that deep sea TSM contains similar to 90% terrigenous OC, while a similar mixing model using delta N-15 reveals a lower proportion (similar to 58%). Organic biomarkers of TSM suggest contributions from a mixture of resuspended, continental-margin derived marine organic matter (OMMAR) and terrigenous sources, revealing that terrestrial OC likely mixes with nitrogen-rich marine material during rapid transport. This study documents that rapid transfer of terrigenous organic matter (OMTERR) into the deeper regions of GSC occurred within a week of typhoon Morakot, likely through hyperpycnal injection of sediment-laden, warm freshwater from southern Taiwan. Evidence from this typhoon Morakot-induced hyperpycnal plume event in Taiwan demonstrates that extreme storm events provide an efficient way to export terrigenous OC without oxidation to hitherto unknown water depths of deep sea in the Oceania region. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Kaoping Submarine-Canyon; Small Mountainous Rivers; Eastern North Pacific; Gulf-Of-Mexico; Sediment-Transport; Continental-Margin; Temporal Variability; Carbon Sequestration; Particulate Matter; Marine-Sediments
Selvaraj, K; Lee, TY; Yang, JYT; Canuel, Elizabeth A.; Huang, JC; and et al., Stable isotopic and biomarker evidence of terrigenous organic matter export to the deep sea during tropical storms (2015). Marine Geology, 364, 32-42.