Sources of fine-sized organic matter in North Atlantic Heinrich Layers: δ <SUP>13</SUP>C and δ <SUP>15</SUP>N tracers - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta Year : 2002

Sources of fine-sized organic matter in North Atlantic Heinrich Layers: δ 13C and δ 15N tracers


Organic carbon (OC) and total nitrogen (TN) concentrations and stable isotope ratios (δ 13C, δ 15N) of fine (<50 μm) size fractions of deep-sea sediments from the central North Atlantic were employed to identify changes in sources of organic matter over the past 50 ka BP. Ambient glacial sediments are characterised by values that reflect mixtures of marine and terrestrial inputs (averages ± 1σ: OC/TN = 7.6 ± 0.8; δ 13C = -22.8 ± 1.0‰; δ 15N = 5.5 ± 0.6‰). δ 13C, OC, and TN concentrations shift to higher values during the Holocene, indicating a gradual decrease of fine terrigenous supply to the North Atlantic. The unchanged δ 15N record between last glacial and Holocene stages indicates that the central North Atlantic region remained oligotrophic at least during the past 50 ka BP, but additional studies are required to support this result in terms of nitrogen oceanic budget. During the phases of enhanced ice-rafted detrital supply corresponding to prominent Heinrich events (HL 1, HL 2, HL 4, and HL 5), fine-sized sedimentary organic matter has lower OC and TN concentrations, contrasting sharply with those of ambient glacial sediments. Lower δ 13C (down to -28‰) and δ 15N (down to 1.6‰) values and high OC:TN ratios (up to 14.7 ± 1.1) are found for HL 1, HL 2, and with lesser extent for HL 4. These values reflect enhanced detrital supply originating from poorly differentiated soil horizons that characterise periglacial climate conditions and from organic matter-bearing rock sources of the underlying geological basement. During HL 5, only the δ 13C offset records the input of fine size ice-rafted organic matter. Gradually changing soil development conditions during the time interval covering HL 5 to HL 1 (marine isotope stages 5 to 2), as well as varying erosion levels, have been hypothesized on the basis of constant δ 13C, increasing OC/TN and decreasing δ 15N values.

Dates and versions

insu-03619006 , version 1 (24-03-2022)



Sylvain Huon, Francis E. Grousset, Didier Burdloff, Gérard Bardoux, André Mariotti. Sources of fine-sized organic matter in North Atlantic Heinrich Layers: δ 13C and δ 15N tracers. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2002, 66, pp.223-239. ⟨10.1016/S0016-7037(01)00776-1⟩. ⟨insu-03619006⟩
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