A comparison of methods of determining organic carbon in marine sediments, with suggestions for a standard method
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- Byers, S.C., Mills, E.L. & Stewart, P.L. Hydrobiologia (1978) 58: 43. doi:10.1007/BF00018894
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The yield of organic C or total organic matter from a standard carbonate-free marine sediment containing 23.04% N-acetyl glucosamine (10% organic C) was determined using 1) a CHN analyzer on untreated sediment, 2) CHN analysis of acidified and filtered sediment, 3) CHN analysis of acidified centrifuged sediment, 4) wet oxidation by the Walkley and Black method, and 5) loss on ignition at 475–500°C. 100% of the organic C added was recovered by CHN analysis of untreated sediment, but after treatment with acid (necessary to remove carbonates from most sediments) only 0.19% and 1.32% of the C added could be recovered. Wet oxidation yielded only 76.6% organic C. Loss on weight after combustion in a muffle furnace yielded 100% of the total organic matter. It is very difficult to avoid carbonate interference if simple techniques of analysis are used. For most work by marine ecologists organic carbon and nitrogen may be measured by a combination of CHN analysis and loss of weight on ignition of sediments freed of organic matter by precombustion below 500°C.