Sediment Accumulation and Carbon Burial in Four Hadal Trench Systems

TitleSediment Accumulation and Carbon Burial in Four Hadal Trench Systems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsOguri, K, Masqué, P, Zabel, M, Stewart, HA, MacKinnon, G, Rowden, AA, Berg, P, Wenzhöfer, F, Glud, RN
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Date Published09/2022
ISBN Number2169-8961
Keywordsfocusing factor, Hadal trench, mass accumulation rate, mass-wasting event, organic carbon deposition rate, radionuclides

Hadal trenches are considered to act as depocenters for organic material, although pathways for the material transport and deposition rates are poorly constrained. Here we assess focusing, deposition and accumulation of material and organic carbon in four hadal trench systems underlying different surface ocean productivities; the eutrophic Atacama and Kuril-Kamchatka trenches, the mesotrophic Kermadec trench and the oligotrophic Mariana Trench. The study is based on the distributions of naturally occurring 210Pbex, 137Cs and total organic carbon from recovered sediment cores and by applying previously quantified benthic mineralization rates. Periods of steady deposition and discreet mass-wasting deposits were identified from the profiles and the latter were associated with historic recorded seismic events in the respective regions. During periods without mass wasting, the estimated focusing factors along trench axes were elevated, suggesting more or less continuous downslope focusing of material towards the interior of the trenches. The estimated organic carbon deposition rates during these periods exhibited extensive site-specific variability, but were generally similar to values encountered at much shallower settings such as continental slopes and margins. Organic carbon deposition rates during periods of steady deposition were not mirrored by surface ocean productivity, but appeared confounded by local bathymetry. The inclusion of deposition mediated by mass-wasting events enhanced the sediment and organic carbon accumulations for the past ∼150 years by up to a factor of ∼4. Thus, due to intensified downslope material focusing and infrequent mass-wasting events, hadal trenches are important sites for deposition and sequestration of organic carbon in the deep sea.