Photochemical changes in chemical markers of sedimentary organic matter source and age

TitlePhotochemical changes in chemical markers of sedimentary organic matter source and age
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMayer, LM, Schick, LL, Bianchi, TS, Wysocki, LA
JournalMarine Chemistry

Several chemical markers of organic matter source and age are shown to be susceptible to light-induced alteration. To test for the photochemical lability of markers previously employed for sediments from the Louisiana Coastal zone, we subjected sediments under resuspension conditions to Simulated Sunlight, and monitored changes in ON and Br:OC ratios, delta C-13, Delta C-14, and lignin composition. Markers of terrigenous origin (high C:N, lignin) decreased and delta C-13 became enriched in sediments containing primarily terrigencrus organic matter, while a marker of marine organic matter (Br:OC) decreased in samples containing significant contributions from this source. Preferential loss of C-14 from all sediments indicated enhanced photochemical lability of organic matter of relatively recent origin, consistent with the changes in chemical markers. Most, but not all, experimental alterations are consistent with field distributions of these markers. Relatively small experimental changes in the markers in combination with confounding processes in the environment, however. prevent these parallel trends from providing any more than a consistency test for the importance of photochemical reactions in this region. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.