Bulk organic parameters and stable and radiocarbon isotope compositions of organic carbon (δ13COC and
Δ14COC) as well as various biomarkers (lignin phenols, plant waxes etc.) have been used to investigate the
biogeochemical characteristics of organic carbon in the Amazon River system. However, the source,
concentration and distribution pattern of lignin on the Amazon shelf and fan has not been assessed so far. In
particular, the compound-specific stable carbon isotope compositions (δ13C) of lignin phenols have not been
characterized in the Amazon River system. In order to study the distribution of lignin in the lower Amazon basin and its dispersal on the shelf and fan, we used riverbed sediments from the Amazon mainstream and its main tributaries and marine surface sediments on the Amazon shelf and fan. The samples were analyzed for particulate organic carbon content (POC), δ13COC, lignin phenol compositions and compound-specific δ13C of individual lignin phenols. The concentrations of aluminium and silicon (Al/Si) were used as a proxy for grain size. The POC content in the main tributaries ranged from 0.13 to 3.99 wt-% and increased with Al/Si ratio in each tributary. δ13COC varied from -26.1‰ to -29.9‰ VPDB in riverbed sediments. Lignin content (represented by Λ8, sum of eight lignin phenols in OC, expressed as mg/100mg OC) ranged from 0.73 to 6.91 and is positively related with Al/Si ratio in the main tributaries except for the Xingu River, in which Λ8 decreased with Al/Si. Ratios of syringyl to vanillyl (S/V) and cinnamyl to vanillyl (C/V) varied from 0.70 to 1.51 and 0.08 to 0.47, respectively, suggesting that the dominant source of lignin is non-woody angiosperm tissue. The ratios of vanillic acid to vanillin (Ad/Al)v (0.26-0.71) and syringic acid to syringaldehyde (Ad/Al)s (0.15-0.57) indicated relatively fresh, non-degraded lignin. In marine sediments, the δ13COC ranged from -18.6‰ to -26.7‰ and is correlated with the Λ8 value (0.04-2.01). The decreasing Λ8 value along the coast from the Amazon River mouth towards the northwest implies that lignin is distributed by the North Brazil Current. A main plant source of non-woody angiosperm tissue was indicated by the S/V (0.59-1.62) and C/V (0.10-0.43) ratios on the marine samples. The agreement between riverbed and marine sediments suggests that processing of POC during transport from the basin to offshore does not change the plant source information of lignin. Highly degraded lignin on the Amazon fan and the southeast shelf is indicated by (Ad/Al)v (0.49-0.99). δ13C of lignin phenols of 9 marine sediments ranged from -28.6‰ to -33.3‰ and were consistently lower than δ13COC (-19.7‰ to -26.7‰). Depleted δ13C of lignin phenols indicate that the POC produced by the terrestrial biosphere is mainly derived from higher plants using C3 photosynthesis.
Bouchez, J., Galy, V., Hilton, R.G., Gaillardet, J., Moreira-Turcq, P., Pérez, M.A., France-Lanord, C., Maurice, L., 2014. Source, transport and fluxes of Amazon River particulate organic carbon: Insights from river sediment depth-profiles. Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta 133, 280-298
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut