An organic tracer for surface ocean radiocarbon Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The Delta(14)C of surface water dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in the Southern California Eight was compared to Delta(14)C as recorded by the sterols in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara Basin sediments. All of the C-26, C-27, C-28, and C-29 sterols as well as dinosterol had C-14 concentrations equal to surface water DIG, indicating that all of the major sterols were derived from phytoplanktonic production. There is no detectable terrestrial component. Their tracer capability was confirmed by comparing the “bomb C-14”-derived change in surface water Delta(14)C(DIC) With the change in Delta(14)C(sterol). The “prebomb” Delta(14)C(DIC) was similar to 82 parts per thousand, and prebomb sterols averaged -75 +/- 19 parts per thousand. The Delta(14)C value in 1996 was +71 parts per thousand, Eighteen measurements representing eight different sterols from the sediment-water interface of both Santa Monica and Santa Barbara Basins averaged +62 +/- 23 parts per thousand. When three of these values were eliminated because of suspected contamination, the remaining data averaged +71 +/- 12 parts per thousand. The entire compound class could serve as an excellent proxy for the C-14 concentration of ocean surface waters.

publication date

  • October 2000