We have investigated the delivery of terrestrial organic carbon (OC) to the Amazon shelf and deep sea fan based on soil marker bacteriohopanepolyols (BHPs; adenosylhopane and related compounds) and branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs), as well as on 14C dating of bulk organic matter. The microbial biomarker records show persistent burial of terrestrial OC, evidenced by almost constant and high BIT values (0.6) and soil marker BHP concentration [80–230 μg/g TOC (total OC)] on the late Holocene shelf and even higher BIT values (0.8–0.9), but lower and more variable soil-marker BHP concentration (40–100 μg/g TOC), on the past glacial deep sea fan. Radiocarbon data show that OC on the shelf is 3–4 kyr older than corresponding bivalve shells, emphasizing the presence of old carbon in this setting. We observe comparable and unexpectedly invariant BHP composition in both marine sediment records, with a remarkably high relative abundance of C-35 amino BHPs including compounds specific for aerobic methane oxidation on the shelf (avg. 50% of all BHPs) and the fan (avg. 40%). Notably, these marine BHP signatures are strikingly similar to those of a methane-producing floodplain area in one of the Amazonian wetland (várzea) regions. The observation indicates that BHPs in the marine sediments may have initially been produced within wetland regions of the Amazon basin and may therefore document persistent export from terrestrial wetland regions, with subsequent re-working in the marine environment, both during recent and past glacial climate conditions.
AWI Organizations > Geosciences > Marine Geochemistry