Holocene environmental changes in Red River delta, Vietnam as inferred from the stable carbon isotopes and C/N ratios

  • Nguyen Tai TueEmail author
  • Dang Minh Quan
  • Pham Thao Nguyen
  • Luu Viet Dung
  • Tran Dang Quy
  • Mai Trong Nhuan


The present study applied stable carbon isotopes, C/N ratios, and sedimentological indicators to reconstruct environmental changes during Holocene and to test the hypothesis that \(\updelta ^{13}\hbox {C}\) and C/N ratios are accurate proxies of sea level change in the Red River delta (RRD), Vietnam. A 36 m long sediment core was mechanically drilled in the wave-dominated region of the RRD. The covariation of lithological characteristics, sediment grain-size distribution and geochemical proxies (LOI, TOC, C/N, \(\updelta ^{13}\hbox {C}\)) suggested that the sediment core could be divided into six depositional environments, consisting of sub- and inter-tidal flats (formed before 8860 cal. year BP), shelf-prodelta, delta front slope (formed from 8860 to 2290 cal. year BP), delta front platform, tidal flat, and flood plain (from 2290 to 0 cal. year BP). Covariation of \(\updelta ^{13}\hbox {C}\) and C/N ratios in the sediment core allowed for tracing the origin of sedimentary organic carbon, which shifted from the dominance of mangroves and C3 plants at the sub- and inter-tidal flats to marine phytoplankton at the shelf-prodelta and delta front slope. The sedimentary sources of the delta front platform, tidal flat and flood plain were a mixture of phytoplankton and C3 plants, with the later source being dominant.


Environmental change stable isotopes C/N ratios Red River delta Vietnam 



We express our sincere thanks to Dr. Todd W Miller (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for critical reviews and comments and English editing, which significantly improved this manuscript. This research is funded by the Vietnam National University, Hanoi (VNU) under project number QG.16.16.


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of GeologyVNU University of ScienceThanh Xuan, HanoiVietnam
  2. 2.VNU Key Laboratory of Geoenvironment and Climate Change ResponseThanh Xuan, HanoiVietnam

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