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Grain-size properties and organic-carbon stock of Yedoma Ice Complex permafrost from the Kolyma lowland, northeastern Siberia

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Strauss, J. , Schirrmeister, L. , Wetterich, S. , Borchers, A. and Davydov, S. (2012): Grain-size properties and organic-carbon stock of Yedoma Ice Complex permafrost from the Kolyma lowland, northeastern Siberia , Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 26 (GB3003) . doi: 10.1029/2011GB004104
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Abstract:

The organic carbon stock in permafrost is of increasing interest in environmental research, because during the late Quaternary a large pool of organic carbon accumulated in the sedimentary deposits of arctic permafrost. Because of its potential to degrade and release organic carbon, the organic-matter inventory of Yedoma Ice Complex deposits is relevant to current concerns about the effects of global warming. In this context, it is essential to improve the understanding of preserved carbon quantities and characteristics. The paper aims to clarify the Yedoma Ice Complex origin, and to develop an approach for volumetric organic-matter quantification. Therefore, we analyzed the grain size and the organic-matter characteristics of the deposits exposed at the stratigraphic key site Duvanny Yar (lower Kolyma River, northeast Siberia). A distinct bimodal grain-size distribution confirms a polygenetic origin of the frozen sediments from a flood-plain environment. The total organic-carbon content averages 1.5 ± 1.4 wt% while the volumetric organic-carbon content averages 14 ± 8 kg/m³. However, large-scale extrapolations for Yedoma Ice Complex deposits in general are not reasonable yet because of their rather unclear spatial distribution. We conclude that Yedoma Ice Complex formation at Duvanny Yar was dominated by water-related (alluvial/fluvial/lacustrine) as well as aeolian processes. The total organic-carbon content of the studied deposits is low if compared to other profiles, but it is still a significant pool.

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