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Using Rock-Eval 6 pyrolysis for tracking fossil organic carbon in modern environments: implications for the roles of erosion and weathering.

Abstract : This work relates to the debate on the fossil organic carbon (FOC) input in modern environments and its possible implication for the carbon cycle, and suggests the use of Rock-Eval 6 pyrolysis as a relevant tool for tracking FOC in such environments. Considering that such a delivery is mainly due to supergene processes affecting the continental surface, we studied organic matter in different reservoirs such as bedrocks, alterites, soils and rivers in two experimental catchments at Draix (Alpes de Haute Provence, France). Samples were subjected to geochemical (Rock-Eval 6 pyrolysis) investigations and artificial bacterial degradations. After comparing the geochemical fingerprint of samples, geochemical markers of FOC were defined and tracked in the different reservoirs. Our results confirm the contribution of FOC in modern soils and rivers and display the various influences of weathering and erosional processes on the fate of FOC during its exchange between these pools. In addition, the contrasting behaviour of these markers upon the supergene processes has also highlighted the refractory or labile characters of the fossil organic matter (FOM). Bedrock to river fluxes, controlled by gully erosion, are characterized by a qualitative and quantitative preservation of FOM. Bedrock to alterite fluxes, governed by chemical weathering, are characterized by FOC mineralization without qualitative changes in deeper alterites. Alterite to soils fluxes, controlled by (bio)chemical weathering, are characterized by strong FOC mineralization and qualitative changes of FOM. Thus weathering and erosional processes induce different FOM evolution and affect the fate of FOC towards the global carbon cycle. In this study, gully erosion would involve maintenance of an ancient sink for the global carbon cycle, while (bio)chemical processes provide a source of CO2. Finally, this study suggests that Rock-Eval 6 pyrolysis can be considered as a relevant tool for tracking FOC in modern environments.
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 4, 2007 - 10:00:13 AM
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Yoann Copard, Christian Di Giovanni, Thomas Martaud, Patrick Albéric, Jean-Emmanuel Olivier. Using Rock-Eval 6 pyrolysis for tracking fossil organic carbon in modern environments: implications for the roles of erosion and weathering.. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, Wiley, 2006, 31, N°2 (2), pp.135 - 153. ⟨10.1002/esp.1319⟩. ⟨hal-00022590⟩



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