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The composition of sedimentary organic matter in relation to the dynamic features of the mangrove-fringed coast in French Guiana.

Abstract : The sedimentary organic matter content of a series of 2-m-deep cores was examined in relation to the evolution of mangrove forest, on the basis of geochemical analyses and optical observations. Avicennia-dominated forest deposits, developing along the highly dynamic coastline of French Guiana, were collected in five stations based on stage of forest evolution. The sedimentary organic matter in the upper sediment of the youngest mangrove swamp is mainly derived from algal mats with low carbon:nitrogen ratios (C:N ratio, from 6 to 8) and typical greyish amorphous organic flakes as observed in optical studies. Indeed, rare young Avicennia trees are present, and effectively, geochemical parameters do not give evidence of a litter made up of higher plant debris, these rare debris being probably exported by the tides. A slight increase with depth in the first decimetres of both total organic carbon (TOC) content and C:N ratio results from the development of the radial cable root-system of the pioneer Avicennia germinans. Early diagenetic conditions of this young forest are rather controlled by dominant suboxic processes, as suggested by high Eh values (range, 200–400 mV) and local anoxic processes (occurrence of pyrite) in micro-environments: this is mainly due to the oxygen available by roots and crab bioturbation. The organic content of the senescent mangrove sediment is mainly derived from higher plant debris in the uppermost 30 cm, as indicated by relatively high C:N ratios and the predominance of ligno-cellulosic debris. The strong decrease in hydrogen index values results from the degradation of the higher plant debris, losing hydrogen bounds through decay processes. Moderately acidic pH values, low Ehs and the presence of pyrite framboids point towards the reducing decay processes in surficial layers of the senescent mangrove mediated by sulphate-reducing bacteria. Whatever the stage of evolution of the forest, the geochemical characteristics of the sediment below 30 cm are those of the shoreface one, with opaque refractory debris derived from the Amazon river detritus discharge. The sediment collected from dead mangrove forests, subsequently recolonized by pioneer mangroves, contains organic markers, which predate recolonization, recording previous phases of erosion and accretion.
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Cyril Marchand, Elisabeth Lallier-Vergès, F. Baltzer. The composition of sedimentary organic matter in relation to the dynamic features of the mangrove-fringed coast in French Guiana.. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Elsevier, 2003, 56, pp.119-130. ⟨10.1016/S0272-7714(02)00134-8⟩. ⟨hal-00069448⟩

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