Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Miserocchi S., Langone L., Tesi T. Content and isotopic composition of organic carbon within a flood layer in the Po River prodelta (Adriatic Sea). In: Continental Shelf Research, vol. 27 (40271) pp. 338 - 358. Pergamon-elsevier Science Ltd, 2007.
"Thirty-three surface sediment samples from cross-shelf transects on the northern Adriatic shelf were collected in December 2000, soon after a 100-yr flood of the Po River, in order to determine the distribution of organic carbon (OC) along the main sediment dispersal system. To evaluate the temporal variability, stations were re-occupied eight times at seasonal intervals until June 2003. Downcore sediment profiles from two sites characterized by high flood deposit thicknesses were also examined to assess the OC variability within the flood layer. In December 2000, the highest contents of OC (up to 1.24wt%) were measured in front of the main distributary mouths (Pila, Tolle and Gnocca-Goro) where the greatest thicknesses of the flood deposit were recorded. However, the influence of the Po di Gnocca-Goro sediment supply on the OC surface distribution declined after similar to 1.5 years from the fall-2000 river flood, probably because these mouths are less active when the water discharge is lower. The delta C-13 of organic matter was used to trace the dispersal of fluvial OC on the continental shelf. The delta C-13 values ranged from -25.9 parts per thousand to -23.1 parts per thousand. The fraction of fluvially derived organic particles decreased with increasing water depth according to a radial dispersal pattern around the Po, River delta. This pattern persisted in all cruises. delta C-13 values increased progressively until April 2002, suggesting an increasing marine contribution to the OC content but decreased again following a second minor flood event in November 2002. The molar C/N ratio was on average 10.0 +/- 1.6, with slightly lower values in southern and central areas. Assuming contributions from three OC end-members (terrestrial, riverine and marine), a mixing model based on delta C-13 and the ratio of N to C (statistically more robust than C/N; Goni, M.A., Teixeir, M.J., Perkley, D.W., 2003. Sources and distribution of organic matter in a river-dominated estuary (Winyah Bay, SC, USA). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 57, 1023-1048) was applied in order to quantitatively assess the OC sources for Po shelf sediments. delta C-13 is significantly and positively correlated with the marine OC fraction. The terrestrial fraction is inversely correlated with N/C, while the riverine fraction is positively correlated with N/C. The terrestrial OC source was the most abundant end-member (> 70%) showing only little temporal variability regardless of the Po River water discharge. Temporal and spatial changes in OC composition suggest that: (a) the Po River prodelta is always dominated from terrestrial OC input; (b) the Po della Pila supplies most terrestrial OC, whilst other tributaries (e.g., Po di Gnocca-Goro) are secondary sources. However, these mouths are as important as the Po della Pila in affecting the riverine OC signature; (c) offshore, biological primary production raises the marine OC contribution. At two sites on the Po River prodelta, the 2000-flood deposit shows slight but consistent compositional changes of organic matter (N/C and Omega C-13) which can help to recognize other flood events in the sedimentary record. The OC budget for the 2000-flood deposit accounts for a terrestrial + riverine OC supply of 68-162 Gg (10(9) g) against an OC deposition of 106-162 Gg (excluding the marine fraction), which implies a rapid and efficient sedimentation of the flood material, and scarce or negligible export out the study area. Flood events may thus enhance terrestrial carbon burial, whereas marine carbon arrives more slowly and may be largely mineralized at the sediment-water interface. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved."
DOI: 10.1016/j.csr.2005.05.005
Subject organic carbon
stable isotopes
C/N ratio
flood deposit
Po River prodelta

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