Organic Carbon and Planktic Foraminifera Radiocarbon Derived Holocene Sediment Accumulation Rates In the Northern Slopes of the Gulf of Mexico

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Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


In the context of climate regulation and anthropogenic waste detoxification (e.g. oil spills), estimates of deep ocean sedimentation and carbon sequestration are of the utmost importance. Radiocarbon (14C) is a common radioisotope that can be used to establish millennial scale sediment accumulation rates. The objectives of this study were to: 1) establish ages for co-occurring total organic carbon (TOC) and planktic foraminifera (carbonate) in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico (GoM), 2) use these ages to estimate accumulation rates independently, 3) identify any evidence of redistribution, and 4) examine any offset between TOC and carbonate 14C ages as a tool to potentially identify selective TOC transport. Sediment samples were collected in May 2018 from the RV Point Sur using an Ocean Instruments MC-800 multi corer. Radiocarbon measurements of both planktic foraminifera and TOC subsamples were made at the National Ocean Science Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (NOSAMS). Radiocarbon ages, calibrated using the OxCal 4.4, ranged from recent to 6407 BP. Linear (LAR: 4–24 cm/kyr) and mass accumulation rates (MAR: 1.5–11.5 g/cm2/kyr) were generally consistent with those reported by other recent studies in the GoM. At two sites, C14 ages decreased from the surface to the second sampling increment which was consistent with sediment redistribution. The TOC-carbonate offsets, which are indicative of lateral advection and organic matter aging, were lower than those found in the majority of other regions, which was consistent with less lateral transport or a more oligotrophic setting. The magnitude in radiocarbon age offsets with depth could potentially be used as a relative aging or transport assessment tool in areas with little resuspension.

Publication Title

Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers



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