Determination of Total Organic Carbon Content and ?13C in Carbonate-Rich Detrital Sediments Academic Article uri icon


  • The determination of total organic carbon content and composition in detrital sediments requires careful removal of their carbonate minerals. In detrital sediments containing large amounts of carbonates, including dolomite, this can only be achieved by liquid acid leaching that may solubilise a significant proportion of the organic carbon. For a set of detrital sediments from the Himalayan system and the Amazon River as well as five geological reference materials, we determined the proportion of organic carbon (C-org) solubilised during acid leaching. This proportion is significant for all analysed sediments and generally tends to increase with the organic carbon content. Compared to other types of sediments analysed, clay fractions extracted from river sediments and bed sediments with very low organic carbon content have high and low proportions of acid soluble C-org respectively. In Himalayan and Amazon river sediments, the proportion of C-org solubilised during acid leaching was relatively constant with average values of 14 and 19 % respectively. Thus, it is possible to correct the C-org content for the dissolved organic carbon content measured after decarbonation. Data presented here show that C-org dissolved during liquid acid leaching must be taken into account. After careful calibration, the method presented here should, therefore, be applied to any carbonate-rich detrital sediment.

publication date

  • September 2007