Geologische Rundschau

, Volume 85, Issue 3, pp 496–504 | Cite as

Neritic and pelagic carbonate sedimentation in the marine environment: ignorance is not bliss

  • J. D. Milliman
  • A. W. Droxler
Original Paper


Synthesis of available data allows us to define general patterns of late Quaternary carbonate production and sedimentation in the global ocean. During high stands of sea level, the neritic and pelagic environments appear to sequester approximately similar amounts of carbonate, whereas during low stands of sea level the decreased neritic zone produces and accumulates approximately an order of magnitude less carbonate. Assuming that global accumulation of deep-sea carbonates remains more or less constant during glacially induced changes in sea level, the ocean becomes depleted with respect to calcium carbonate during high stands and recharges during low stands. Before we can achieve a better understanding of the global carbonate system, however, we need a better understanding of key environments and processes: (a) production and accumulation on continental shelves both as potential sinks (accumulation) and as sources (export to the deep sea); (b) a better measure of pelagic carbonate production; and (c) late Quaternary (late Pleistocene and Holocene) mass accumulation rates in the deep sea.

Key words

Calcium carbonate Sedimentation Production Ocean 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. D. Milliman
    • 1
  • A. W. Droxler
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Marine ScienceCollege of William and MaryGloucester PointUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geology and GeophysicsRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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