Tephra Deposition and Bonding With Reactive Oxides Enhances Burial of Organic Carbon in the Bering Sea

Jack Longman*, Thomas M. Gernon, Martin R. Palmer, Hayley R. Manners

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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Preservation of organic carbon (OC) in marine sediments exerts a major control on the cycling of carbon in the Earth system. In these marine environments, OC preservation may be enhanced by diagenetic reactions in locations where deposition of fragmental volcanic material called tephra occurs. While the mechanisms by which this process occurs are well understood, site-specific studies of this process are limited. Here, we report a study of sediments from the Bering Sea (IODP Site U1339D) to investigate the effects of marine tephra deposition on carbon cycling during the Pleistocene and Holocene. Our results suggest that tephra layers are loci of OC burial with distinct δ13C values, and that this process is primarily linked to bonding of OC with reactive metals, accounting for ∼80% of all OC within tephra layers. In addition, distribution of reactive metals from the tephra into non-volcanic sediments above and below the tephra layers enhances OC preservation in these sediments, with ∼33% of OC bound to reactive phases. Importantly, OC-Fe coupling is evident in sediments >700,000 years old. Thus, these interactions may help explain the observed preservation of OC in ancient marine sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GB007140
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number11
Early online date7 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


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