Composition and sources of sedimentary organic matter in the deep Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Pedrosa-Pàmies, R.; Parinos, C.; Sanchez-Vidal, A.; Gogou, A.; Calafat, A.; Canals, M.; Bouloubassi, I.; Lampadariou, N.
July 2015
Biogeosciences Discussions;2015, Vol. 12 Issue 13, p9935
Academic Journal
Surface sediments collected from deep slopes and basins (1018-4087m depth) of the oligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean Sea have been analysed for bulk elemental and isotopic composition of organic carbon, total nitrogen and selected lipid biomarkers, jointly with grain size distribution and other geochemical proxies. The distribution and sources of sedimentary organic matter (OM) have been subsequently assessed and general environmental variables, such as water depth and currents, have been examined as causative factors of deep-sea sediment characteristics. Lithogenic and biogenic carbonates are the dominant sedimentary fractions, while both bulk and molecular organic tracers reflect a mixed contribution from autochthonous and allochthonous sources for the sedimentary OM, as indicated by relatively degraded marine OM, terrestrial plant waxes and anthropogenic OM including degraded petroleum by-products, respectively. Wide regional variations have been observed amongst the studied proxies, which reflect the multiple factors controlling sedimentation in the deep Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Our findings highlight the role of deep Eastern Mediterranean basins as depocentres of organic-rich fine-grained sediments (mean 5.4±2.4 µm), with OM accumulation and burial due to aggregation mechanisms and hydrodynamic sorting. A multi-proxy approach is hired to investigate the biogeochemical composition of sediment samples, which sheds new light on the sources and transport mechanisms along with the impact of preservation vs. diagenetic processes on the composition of sedimentary OM in the deep basins of the oligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean Sea.


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