Distribution and origin of organic matter in the Baltic Sea sediments dated with 210Pb and 137Cs

Open access


Organic carbon deposited in marine sediments is an important part of the global carbon cycle. The knowledge concerning the role of shelf seas (including the Baltic Sea) in the carbon cycle has increased substantially, however organic carbon accumulation rates in the Baltic sediments still require clarification.

This paper describes methods used for assessing organic carbon and nitrogen accumulation rates in six sediment cores collected in the sediment accumulation areas in the Baltic Sea. Mass sediment accumulation rates were based on 210Pb method validated by 137Cs measurements. The organic carbon accumulation rates ranged from 18 to 75 g·C·m−2·yr−1. The C/N ratios and δ13C were used to access sedimentary organic matter provenance. The C/N ratios in the investigated cores vary in the range from 7.4 to 9.6, while δ13C ranged from −24.4‰ to −26.4‰. Results of the terrestrial organic matter contribution in the sedimentary organic matter were calculated basing on δ13C using the end member approach. Large proportion (41–73%) of the sedimentary organic carbon originates on land.

The obtained results indicate the Baltic Sea sediments as an important sink for organic carbon. Substantial fraction of the sedimentary load originates on land.

[1] Abril JM, 2003. Constraints on the use of 137Cs as a time-marker to support CRS and SIT chronologies. Environmental Pollution 129(1): 31–37, DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2003.10.004. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2003.10.004

[2] Borges AV, 2005. Do we have Enough Pieces of the Jigsaw to Integrate CO2 Fluxes in the Coastal Ocean? Estuaries and Coasts 28(1): 3–27, DOI 10.1007/BF02732750. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02732750

[3] Boutton TW, 1991. Stable carbon isotopic ratios of natural materials. II. Atmospheric terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments. In: Coleman DC and Fry B, Eds., Carbon isotope techniques. Academic, San Diego: 173–195. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-179730-0.50016-3

[4] Chen C-TA and Borges AV, 2009. Reconciling opposing views on carbon cycling in the coastal ocean: Continental shelves as sinks and near-shore ecosystems as sources of atmospheric CO2, Deep-Sea Research II 56(8–10): 578–590, DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.01.001. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.01.001

[5] Dzierzbicka-Głowacka L, Kuliński K, Maciejewska A, Jakacki J and Pempkowiak J, 2010. Particulate organic carbon in the southern Baltic Sea: numerical simulations and experimental data. Oceanologia 52(4): 621–648, DOI 10.5697/oc.52-4.621. http://dx.doi.org/10.5697/oc.52-4.621

[6] Dzierzbicka-Głowacka L, Jakacki J, Janecki M and Nowicki A, 2011. Variability in the distribution of phytoplankton as affected by changes to the main physical parameters in the Baltic Sea. Oceanologia 53(1-TI): 449–470, DOI 10.5697/oc.53-1-TI.449. http://dx.doi.org/10.5697/oc.53-1-TI.449

[7] Ebbing J, Zachowicz J, Uścinowicz Sz and Laban C, 2002. Normalization as a tool for environmental impact studies: the Gulf of Gdańsk as a case study, Baltica 15: 49–62.

[8] Emeis KC, Struck U, Leipe T, Pollehne F, Kunzendorf H and Christiansen C, 2000. Changes in the C, N, P burial rates in some sediments over the last 150 years — relevance to P regeneration rates and the phosphorus cycle. Marine Geology 167(1–2): 43–59, DOI 10.1016/S0025-3227(00)00015-3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0025-3227(00)00015-3

[9] Emelyanov EM, 1995. Baltic Sea: Geology, Geochemistry, Paleoceanography, Pollution. P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS, Atlantic Branch Baltic Ecological Institute of Hydrosphere Academy of Natural Sciences, RF: 115pp.

[10] Emelyanov EM, 2002. Geology of the Gdańsk Basin — Baltic Sea. Russian Academy of Sciences, Atlantic Branch of P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology.

[11] Flynn WW, 1968. The determination of 210Po in environmental materials, Analytica Chimica Acta 43: 221–227, DOI 10.1016/S0003-2670(00)89210-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0003-2670(00)89210-7

[12] Gudelis W and Jemielianowa J, 1982. Geologia Morza Bałtyckiego. Wydawnictwa Geologiczne: 412pp.

[13] Hagen E and Feistel R, 2004. Observations of low-frequency current fluctuations in deep water of the Eastern Gotland Basin/Baltic Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research 109: C03044. DOI: 10.1029/2003JC002017.

[14] HELCOM, 2004. The Fourth Baltic Sea Pollution Load Compilation (PLC-4). Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings 93: 189 pp.

[15] HELCOM, 2006. Development of tools for assessment of eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Baltic Sea Environmental Proceedings 104: 169 pp.

[16] HELCOM, 2007. Climate Change in the Baltic Sea Area. Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings 111:54 pp.

[17] Hille S, Leipe T and Seifert T, 2006. Spatial variability of recent sedimentation rates in the eastern Gotland Basin (Baltic Sea), Oceanologia 48(2): 297–317.

[18] Hongisto M, 2011. Variability of the marine boundary layer parameters over Baltic Sea sub-basins and their impact on nitrogen deposition, Oceanologia 53(1-TI): 391–413, DOI 10.5697/oc.53-1-TI.391. http://dx.doi.org/10.5697/oc.53-1-TI.391

[19] IPCC, 2007. Climate change 2007, Synthesis Report. A contribution of working groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 73 pp.

[20] Kankaanpaa H, Vallius H, Sandman O and Niemisto L, 1997. Determination of recent sedimentation in the Gulf of Finland using 137Cs, Oceanologia Acta 20(6): 823–836 pp.

[21] Kuliński K and Pempkowiak J, 2008. Dissolved organic carbon in the southern Baltic Sea: Quantification of factors affecting its distribution, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 78(1): 38–44, DOI 10.1016/j.ecss.2007.11.017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2007.11.017

[22] Kuliński K and Pempkowiak J, 2011. The carbon budget of the Baltic Sea, Biogeosciences 8: 3219–3230, DOI: 10.5194/bg-8-3219-2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-3219-2011

[23] Kuliński K, She J and Pempkowiak J, 2011. Short and medium term dynamics of the carbon exchange between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, Continental Shelf Research 31(15): 1611–1619, DOI 10.1016/j.csr.2011.07.001. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2011.07.001

[24] Kuliński K and Pempkowiak J, 2012. Carbon cycling in the Baltic Sea, Springer, Heidelberg: 143 pp. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-19388-0

[25] Leipe T, Tauber F, Vallius H, Virtasalo J, Uścinowicz Sz, Kowalski N, Hille S, Lindgren S and Myllyvirta T, 2011. Particulate organic carbon (POC) in surface sediments of the Baltic Sea. Geo — Marine Letters 31(3):175–188, DOI 10.1007/s00367-010-0223-x. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00367-010-0223-x

[26] Lass HU and Matthäus W, 2008. General Oceanography of the Baltic Sea. Feistel R., Nausch G., Wasund N., State and Evolution of the Baltic Sea, 1952–2005, Wiley&Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey: 543.

[27] Lima AL, Hubeny JB, Reddy Ch, King JW, Hughen KA and Eglinton T, 2004. High-resolution historical records from Pettaquamscutt River basin sediments: 1. 210Pb and varve chronologies record of 137Cs released by the Czernobyl accident. Geochimica and Cosmochimica Acta 69(7): 1806–1812.

[28] Łysiak-Pastuszak E, 2000. An assessment of nutrient conditions in the southern Baltic Sea between 1994–1998, Oceanologia 42(4): 425–448.

[29] Pempkowiak J, 1985. The input of biochemically labile and resistant organic matter to the Baltic Sea from the Vistula River. Degens E. T., Kempe S., Herrera R., Transport of Carbon and Minerals in Major World Rivers, Pt. 3., Mitt. Geol.-Palaont. Inst. Univ. Hamburg, SCOPE/UNEP Sonderband 58: 345–350.

[30] Pempkowiak J, 1991. Enrichment factors of heavy metals in the Southern Baltic surface sediments dated with 210Pb and 137Cs, Environment International 17(5): 421–428, DOI 10.1016/0160-4120(91)90275-U. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0160-4120(91)90275-U

[31] Robins JA, 1978. Geochemical and geophysical applications of radioactive lead. In: Nriagu J. O., (Ed.), The Biogeochemistry of Lead in the environment, Elsevier, Amsterdam: 253–393.

[32] Struck U, Emeis KC, Voss M, Christiansen C and Kunzendorf H, 2000. Records of southern and central Baltic Sea eutrophication in δ13C and δ15N of sedimentary organic matter, Marine Geology 164(3–4): 157–171, DOI 10.1016/S0025-3227(99)00135-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0025-3227(99)00135-8

[33] Szczepańska A, Zaborska A and Pempkowiak J, 2009. Sediment accumulation rates in the Gotland Deep, Baltic Proper obtained by 210Pb and 137Cs methods, Annual Set the Environment Protection 11(1): 77–85.

[34] Szczepańska T and Uścinowicz Sz, 1994. Geochemical Atlas of the Southern Baltic; 1:500 000, Polish Geological Institute.

[35] Suplińska M, 2002. Vertical distribution of 137Cs, 210Pb, 226Ra and 239,240Pu in bottom sediments from the Southern Baltic Sea in the years 1998–2000, Nukleonika, 47(2): 45–52.

[36] Suplińska M, 2008. Sedimentation rates and dating of bottom sediments in the Southern Baltic Sea region, Nukleonika 53(Supplement 2): S105–S111.

[37] Takahashi T, Sutherland SC, Wanninkhof R, Sweeney C, Feely RA, Chipman DW, Hales B, Friederich G, Chavez F, Sabine Ch, Watson A, Bakker DCE, Schuster U, Metzl N, Yoshikawa-Inoue H, Ishii M, Midorikawa T, Nojiri Y, Kärtzingerm A, Steinhoffm T, Hoppema M, Olafsson J, Arnarson TS, Tilbrook B, Johannessen T, Olsen A, Bellerby R, Wong CS, Delille B, Bates NR and Baar HJW, 2009. Climatological mean and decadal change in surface ocean pCO2, and net sea-air flux over the global oceans, Deep-Sea Research II 56(8–10): 554–577, DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.12.009. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.12.009

[38] Thomas H, Pempkowiak J, Wulff F and Nagl K, 2003. Autotrophy, nitrogen accumulation and nitrogen limitation in the Baltic Sea: A paradox or a buffer for eutrophication? Geophysical Research Letters 30: 2130–2133, DOI 10.1029/2003GL017937. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2003GL017937

[39] Thomas H, Pempkowiak J, Wulff F and Nagel K, 2010. The Baltic Sea, Carbon and Nutrient Fluxes in Continental Margins, Springer: 234–245.

[40] Voipio A, 1981. The Baltic Sea, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company.

[41] Voss M, Larsen B, Leivuori M, Vallius H, 2000. Stable isotope signals of eutrophication in Baltic Sea sediments, Journal of Marine Systems 25(3–4): 287–298, DOI 10.1016/S0924-7963(00)00022-1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0924-7963(00)00022-1

[42] Voss M, Emeis KC and Hille S, 2005. Nitrogen cycle of the Baltic Sea from an isotopic perspective, Global Biogeochemical Cycles 19: GB3001, DOI 10.1029/2004GB002338. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2004GB002338

[43] Walter S, Breitenbach U, Barge HW, Nausch G and Wallace DWR, 2006. Distribution of N2O in the Baltic Sea during transition from anoxic to oxic conditions, Biogeosciences 3: 557–570, DOI 10.5194/bg-3-557-2006. http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/bg-3-557-2006

[44] Wasmund N and Uhlig S, 2003. Phytoplankton trends in the Baltic Sea. Journal of Marine Systems 60(2): 177–186, DOI 10.1016/S1054-3139(02)00280-1.

[45] Widrowski H and Pempkowiak J, 1986. The history of surface sediments in the Southern Baltic, Proc. 15th Conf. Baltic Oceanogr., Mar. Pollut. Lab., Copenhagen: 656–671.

[46] Zaborska A, Carrol J, Papucci C and Pempkowiak J, 2007. Intercomparison of alpha and gamma spectrometry techniques used in Pb-210 geochronology, Journal of Environmental Radioctivity 93(1): 38–50, DOI 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2006.11.007. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2006.11.007

[47] Zaborska A, Carrol J, Papucci C, Torricelli L, Carrol M, Walkusz-Miotk J and Pempkowiak J, 2008. Recent sediment accumulation rates for the Western margin of the Barents Sea, Deep-Sea Research II 55(20–21): 2352–2360, DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.05.026. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.05.026

Journal Information

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 1.119
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.408

CiteScore 2017: 1.33

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.457
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.656

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 184 184 20
PDF Downloads 62 62 12