An improved method for quantitatively measuring the sequences of total organic carbon and black carbon in marine sediment cores
Understanding global carbon cycle is critical to uncover the mechanisms of global warming and remediate its adverse effects on human activities. Organic carbon in marine sediments is an indispensable part of the global carbon reservoir in global carbon cycling. Evaluating such a reservoir calls for quantitative studies of marine carbon burial, which closely depend on quantifying total organic carbon and black carbon in marine sediment cores and subsequently on obtaining their high-resolution temporal sequences. However, the conventional methods for detecting the contents of total organic carbon or black carbon cannot resolve the following specific difficulties, i.e., (1) a very limited amount of each subsample versus the diverse analytical items, (2) a low and fluctuating recovery rate of total organic carbon or black carbon versus the reproducibility of carbon data, and (3) a large number of subsamples versus the rapid batch measurements. In this work, (i) adopting the customized disposable ceramic crucibles with the microporecontrolled ability, (ii) developing self-made or customized facilities for the procedures of acidification and chemothermal oxidization, and (iii) optimizing procedures and carbon-sulfur analyzer, we have built a novel Wang-Xu-Yuan method (the WXY method) for measuring the contents of total organic carbon or black carbon in marine sediment cores, which includes the procedures of pretreatment, weighing, acidification, chemothermal oxidation and quantification; and can fully meet the requirements of establishing their highresolution temporal sequences, whatever in the recovery, experimental efficiency, accuracy and reliability of the measurements, and homogeneity of samples. In particular, the usage of disposable ceramic crucibles leads to evidently simplify the experimental scenario, which further results in the very high recovery rates for total organic carbon and black carbon. This new technique may provide a significant support for revealing the mechanism of carbon burial and evaluating the capacity of marine carbon accumulation and sequestration.
Keywordstotal organic carbon black carbon marine sediment cores chemothermal oxidation disposable ceramic crucible
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