Organic carbon, carbonate, and clay mineral distributions in eastern central Arctic Ocean surface sediments

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Results from a detailed sedimentological investigation of surface sediments from the eastern Arctic Ocean indicate that the distribution of different types of sediment facies is controlled by different environmental processes such as sea-ice distribution, terrigenous sediment supply, oceanic currents, and surface-water productivity.In comparison to other open-ocean environments, total organic carbon contents are high, with maximum values in some deep-basin areas as well as west and north of Svalbard. In general, the organic carbon fraction is dominated by terrigenous material as indicated by low hydrogen index values and high C/N ratios, probably transported by currents and/or sea ice from the Eurasian Shelf areas. The amount of marine organic carbon is of secondary importance reflecting the low-productivity environment described for the modern ice-covered Arctic Ocean. In the area north of Svalbard, some higher amounts of marine organic matter may indicate increased surface-water productivity controlled by the inflow of the warm Westspitsbergen Current (WSC) into the Arctic Ocean and reduced sea-ice cover. This influence of the WSC is also supported by the high content of biogenic carbonate recorded in the Yermak Plateau area.The clay mineral distribution gives information about different source areas and transport mechanisms. Illite, the dominant clay mineral in the eastern central Arctic Ocean sediments, reaches maximum values in the Morris-Jesup-Rise area and around Svalbard, indicating North Greenland and Svalbard to be most probable source areas. Kaolinite reaches maximum values in the Nansen Basin, east of Svalbard, and in the Barents Sea. Possible source areas are Mesozoic sediments in the Barents Sea (and Franz-Josef-Land). In contrast to the high smectite values determined in sea-ice samples, smectite contents are generally very low in the underlying surface sediments suggesting that the supply by sea ice is not the dominant mechanism for clay accumulation in the studied area of the modern central Arctic Ocean.

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DOI 10.1016/0025-3227(94)90185-6

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Stein, R. , Grobe, H. and Wahsner, M. (1994): Organic carbon, carbonate, and clay mineral distributions in eastern central Arctic Ocean surface sediments , Marine Geology, 119 , pp. 269-285 . doi: 10.1016/0025-3227(94)90185-6

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