EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Large contributions of aged organic carbon to Arctic fjord sediments in Svalbard

Dahae Kim, Jung-Hyun Kim, Youngkyu Ahn, Kwangchul Jang, Ji Young Jung, and Seung-Il Nam
Dahae Kim et al.
  • Korea Polar Research Institute, Division of Glacial Environment Research, Incheon-si, South Korea (

Svalbard fjords are hotspots of organic carbon (OC) burial because of their high sedimentation rates. To identify sedimentary OC sources in Arctic fjords, we investigated surface sediments collected from eight Svalbard fjords using bulk and molecular geochemical parameters. All fjord surface sediments investigated were depleted in △14Corg (–666.9±240.3‰, n=28), suggesting that more recently fixed terrestrial and marine biomass is not the only contribution to the sedimentary OC. However, the source could not be determined by the most commonly used bulk indicators (i.e., Norg/TOC ratio and δ13Corg) in the Arctic realm. Thus, we applied a three-endmember model based on △14Corg and lignin phenols to disentangle the relative contributions of petrogenic, subglacial, and marine OC to the sedimentary OC pool. The fjord sediments (n=48) comprised on average of 79.3±26.1% petrogenic OC, 17.7±26.2% subglacial OC, and 3.0±2.5% marine OC. This three-end-member approach highlights the substantial contribution of petrogenic and subglacial OC to the present-day sedimentary OC in Svalbard fjords. Accordingly, under predicted warming worldwide, accelerated contributions of petrogenic and subglacial OC to fjords can be expected as a consequence of rapid glacier retreat, which may play an important role in the active carbon cycle as a potential CO2 source to the atmosphere.

How to cite: Kim, D., Kim, J.-H., Ahn, Y., Jang, K., Jung, J. Y., and Nam, S.-I.: Large contributions of aged organic carbon to Arctic fjord sediments in Svalbard, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-10699,, 2023.