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Organic carbon burial during OAE2 driven by changes in the locus of organic matter sulfurization.

  • Author(s): Raven, Morgan Reed
  • Fike, David A
  • Gomes, Maya L
  • Webb, Samuel M
  • Bradley, Alexander S
  • McClelland, Harry-Luke O
  • et al.
Abstract

Ocean Anoxic Event 2 (OAE2) was a period of dramatic disruption to the global carbon cycle when massive amounts of organic matter (OM) were buried in marine sediments via complex and controversial mechanisms. Here we investigate the role of OM sulfurization, which makes OM less available for microbial respiration, in driving variable OM preservation in OAE2 sedimentary strata from Pont d'Issole (France). We find correlations between the concentration, S:C ratio, S-isotope composition, and sulfur speciation of OM suggesting that sulfurization facilitated changes in carbon burial at this site as the chemocline moved in and out of the sediments during deposition. These patterns are reproduced by a simple model, suggesting that small changes in primary productivity could drive large changes in local OM burial in environments poised near a critical redox threshold. This amplifying mechanism may be central to understanding the magnitude of global carbon cycle response to environmental perturbations.

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