Ocean Science Journal

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 17–29 | Cite as

δ13C and δ15N Values of Sediment-trap Particles in the Japan and Yamato Basins and Comparison with the Core-top Values in the East/Japan Sea

  • Boo-Keun KhimEmail author
  • Shigeyoshi Otosaka
  • Kyung-Ae Park
  • Shinichiro Noriki


Investigation of sediment-trap deployments in the East/Japan Sea (EJS) showed that distinct seasonal variations in particulate organic carbon (POC) fluxes of intermediate-water sediment-traps clearly corresponded to changes in chlorophyll a concentrations estimated from SeaWiFS data. The prominent high POC flux periods (e.g., March) were strongly correlated with the enhanced surface-water phytoplankton blooms. Deep-water sedimenttraps exhibited similar variation patterns to intermediate-water sediment-traps. However, their total flux and POC flux were higher than those of intermediate-water sediment-traps during some months (e.g., April and May), indicating the lateral delivery of some particles to the deep-water sediment-traps. Distinct seasonal δ13C and δ15N variations in settling particles of the intermediate-water sediment-traps were observed, strongly supporting the notion of seasonal primary production. Seasonal variations in δ13C and δ15N values from the deep-water sediment-traps were similar to those of the intermediate-water sediment-traps. However, the difference in δ13C and δ15N values between the intermediate-water and the deepwater sediment-traps may be attributed to degradation of organic matter as it sank through the water column. Comparison of fluxweighted δ13C and δ15N mean values between the deep-water sediment-traps and the core-top sediments showed that strong selective loss of organic matter components (lipids) depleted in 13C and 15N occurred during sediment burial. Nonetheless, the results of our study indicate that particles in the deep-water sediment-trap deposited as surface sediments on the seafloor preserve the record of surface-water conditions, highlighting the usefulness of sedimentary δ13C and δ15N values as a paleoceanographic application in the EJS.


sediment-trap carbon isotope nitrogen isotope surface-water production seasonality Japan Basin Yamato Basin 


  1. Altabet MA (1988) Variations in nitrogen isotopic composition between sinking and suspended particles: implications for nitrogen cycling and particle transformation in the open ocean. Deep-Sea Res 35:535–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altabet MA (1996) Nitrogen and carbon isotope tracers of the source and transformation of particles in the deep sea. In: Ittekkot V (ed) Particle flux in the ocean. John Wiley & Sons Ltd., pp 155–184Google Scholar
  3. Altabet MA, Francois R (1994) Sedimentary nitrogen isotopic ratio as a recorder for surface ocean nitrate utilization. Global Biogeochem Cy 8:103–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Altabet MA, Small LF (1990) Nitrogen isotopic ratios in fecal pellets produced by marine zooplankton. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 54:155–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Altabet MA, Pilskaln C, Thunell R, Pride C, Sigman D, Chavez F, Francois R (1999) The nitrogen isotope biogeochemistry of sinking particles from the margin of the eastern North Pacific. Deep-Sea Res 46:655–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bentaleb I, Fontugne M (1998) The role of the southern Indian Ocean in the glacial to interglacial atmospheric CO2 change: organic carbon isotope evidences. Global Planet Change 16–17:25–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bentaleb I, Fontugne M, Descolasgros C, Cyril G, Mariotti A, Pierre C (1998) Carbon isotopic fractionation by phytoplankton in the Southern Indian Ocean: relationship between δ13C of particulate organic carbon and dissolved carbon dioxide. J Marine Syst 17:39–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buesseler KO (1991) Do upper-ocean sediment traps provide an accurate record of particle flux? Nature 353:420–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burkhardt S, Riebesell U, Zondervan I (1999a) Effects of growth rate, CO2 concentration, and cell size on the stable carbon isotope fractionation in marine phytoplankton. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 63:3729–3741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burkhardt S, Riebesell U, Zondervan I (1999b) Stable carbon isotope fractionation by marine phytoplankton in response to daylength, growth rate, and CO2 availability. Mar Ecol-Prog Ser 184:31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chang K-I, Teague WJ, Lyu SJ, Perkins HT, Lee DK, Watts DR, Kim YB, Mitchell DA, Lee CM, Kim K (2004) Circulation and currents in the southwestern East/Japan Sea: overview and review. Prog Oceanogr 61:105–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. de Lange GJ, van Os B, Pruysers PA, Middelburg JJ, Castradori D, van Santvoort P, Muller PJ, Eggenkamp H, Prahl FG (1994) Possible early diagenetic alteration of palaeo proxies. In: Zahn R, Pedersen TF, Kaminski MA, Labeyrie L (eds) Carbon cycling in the glacial ocean: constraints on the ocean’s role in global change. Springer, Berlin, pp 225–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeNiro MJ, Epstein S (1981) Influence of diet on the distribution of nitrogen isotopes in animals. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 45:341–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fisher G (1991) Stable carbon isotope ratios of plankton carbon and sinking organic matter from the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. Mar Chem 35:581–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fontugne MR, Calvert SE (1992) Late Pleistocene variability of the carbon isotopic composition of organic matter in the eastern Mediterranean: monitor of changes in carbon sources and atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Paleoceanography 7:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Francois R, Altabet MA, Buckle LH (1992) Glacial to interglacial changes in surface nitrate utilization in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean as recorded by sediment δ15N. Paleoceanogrpahy 7:589–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Freudenthal T, Wagner T, Wenzhofer F, Zable M, Wefer G (2001) Early diagenesis of organic matter from sediments of the eastern subtropical Atlantic: evidence from stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 65:1795–1808CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fry B, Wainright SC (1991) Diatom sources of 13C-rich carbon in marine food webs. Mar Ecol-Prog Ser 76:149–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fung IY, Meyn SK, Tegen I, Doney SC, John JG, Bishop JKB (2000) Iron supply and demand in the upper ocean. Global Biogeochem Cy 14:281–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harvey HR, Tuttle JH, Bell JT (1995) Kinetics of phytoplankton decay during simulated sedimentation: changes in biochemical composition and microbial activity under oxic and anoxic conditions. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 59:3367–3377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haug GH, Pedersen TF, Sigman DM, Calvert SE, Nielsen B, Peterson LC (1998) Glacial/interglacial variations in production and nitrogen fixation in the Cariaco Basin during the last 580 kyr. Paleoceanography 13:427–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hedges JI, Parker PL (1976) Land-derived organic matter in surface sediments from the Gulf of Mexico. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 40:1019–1029CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hedges JI, Baldock JA, Gelinas Y, Lee C, Peterson M, Wakeham SG (2001) Evidence for non-selective preservation of organic matter in sinking marine particles. Nature 409:801–804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hinga KR, Arthur MA, Pilson MEQ, Whitaker D (1994) Carbon isotope fractionation by marine phytoplankton in culture: the effects of CO2 concentration and pH, temperature, and species. Global Biogeochem Cy 8:91–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hollander DJ, McKenzie JA (1991) CO2 control on carbon isotope fractionation during aqueous photosynthesis: a paleo-pCO2 barometer. Geology 19:929–932CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Holmes ME, Schnieder RR, Müller PJ, Segl M, Wefer G (1997) Reconstruction of past nutrient utilization in the eastern Angola Basin based on sedimentary 15N/14N ratios. Paleoceanography 12:604–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hong GH, Baskaran M, Lee HK, Kim SH (2008) Sinking fluxes of particulate U-Th radionuclides in the East Sea (Sea of Japan). J Oceanogr 64:267–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Horrigan SG, Montoya JP, Nevins JL, McCarthy JJ, Ducklow H., Goericke R, Malone T (1990) Nitorgeous nutrient transformations in the spring and fall in the Chesapeake Bay. Estuar Coast Shelf S 30:369–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Iwasaka Y, Minoura H, Nagaya K (1983) The transport and special scale of Asian dust-storm clouds: a case study of the dust-storm event of April 1979. Tellus 35B:189–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jasper JP, Hayes JM (1990) A carbon-isotopic record of CO2 levels during the Late Quaternary. Nature 347:462–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jo CO, Lee J-Y, Park K-A, Kim YH, Kim K-R (2007) Asian dust initiated early spring bloom in the northern East/Japan Sea. Geophys Res Lett 34:L05602. doi:10.1029/2006GL027395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kanayama S, Yabuki S, Yanagisawa F, Motoyama R (2002) The chemical and strontium isotope composition of atmospheric aerosols over Japan: the contribution of long-range-transported Asian dust (Kosa). Atmos Environ 36:5159–5175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Khim BK, Ikehara K, Bahk JJ, Irino T (2008) Increased negative anomalies of sedimentary organic matter δ13C and δ15N values in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) during the full glaciation of the late Quaternary. Quat Int 176/177:25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kienast M, Calvert SE, Pelejero C, Grimalt J (2001) A critical review of marine sedimentary δ13Corg-pCO2 estimates: new paleorecords from South China Sea and a revisit of other low-latitude δ13CorgpCO2 records. Global Biogeochem Cy 15:113–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kim K, Chang KI, Kang DJ, Kim YH, Lee JH (2008) Review of recent findings on the water masses and circulation in the East Sea (Sea of Japan). J Oceanogr 64:721–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kim M, Hwang J, Rho TK, Lee T, Kang DJ, Chang KI, Noh S, Joo HT, Kwak JH, Kang CK, Kim, KR (2017) Biogeochemical properties of sinking particles in the southwestern part of the East Sea (Japan Sea). J Marine Syst 167:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kim SW, Saitoh S, Ishizaka J, Isoda Y, Kishino M (2000) Temporal and spatial variability of phytoplankton pigment concentrations in the Japan Sea derived from CZCS images. J Oceanogr 56:527–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Law EA, Popp BN, Bidigare RR, Kennicutt MC, Macko SA (1995) Dependence of phytoplankton carbon isotopic composition on growth rate and [CO2]aq: theoretical consideration and experimental results. Geochim Cosmochim Ac 59:1131–1138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Libes SM, Deuser WG (1988) The isotopic geochemistry of particulate nitrogen in the Peru Upwelling Area and the Gulf of Maine. Deep-Sea Res 35:517–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lourey MJ, Trull JT, Sigman DM (2003) Sensitivity of δ15N of nitrate, surface suspended and deep sinking particulate nitrogen to seasonal nitrate depletion in the Southern Ocean. Global Biogeochem Cy 17. doi:10.1029/2002GB001973Google Scholar
  41. Macko SA, Estep MLF (1984) Microbial alteration of stable nitrogen and carbon isotopic compositions of organic matter. Org Geochem 6:787–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mariotti A, Germon JC, Hubert P, Kaiser P, Letolle R, Tardieux A, Tardieux P (1981) Experimental determination of nitrogen kinetic isotope fractionation: some principles, illustration for the denitrification and nitrification processes. Plant Soil 62:413–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Masuzawa T, Noriki S, Kurosaki T, Tsunogai S, Koyama M (1989) Compositional change of settling particles with water depth in the Japan Sea. Mar Chem 27:61–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Montes E, Thunell R, Muller-Karger FE, Lorenzoni L, Tappa E, Troccoli L, Astor Y, Varela R (2013) Sources of δ15N variability in sinking particulate nitrogen in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela. Deep-Sea Res Pt II 93:96–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Montoya JP, MacCarthy JJ (1995) Isotopic fractionation during nitrate uptake by phytoplankton grown in continuous culture. J Plankton Res 17:439–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mook WG, Bommerson JC, Staverman WH (1974) Carbon isotope fractionation between dissolved bicarbonate and gaseous carbon dioxide. Earth Planet Sc Lett 22:169–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Moon CH, Yang SR, Yang HS, Cho HJ, Lee SY, Kim SY (1998) Regeneration process of nutrients in the polar front area of the East Sea: Chlorophyll a distribution, new production and the vertical diffusion of nitrate. Bull Korean Fish Soc 31:259–266 (in Korean)Google Scholar
  48. Nakanishi T, Minagawa M (2003) Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of sinking particles in the northeast Japan Sea. Geochem J 37:261–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. O’Leary MH (1988) Carbon isotopes in photosynthesis. Bioscience 38:328–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Otosaka S, Togawa O, Baba M, Karasev E, Volkov YN, Omata N, Noriki S (2004) Lithogenic flux in the Japan Sea measured with sediment traps. Mar Chem 91:143–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Otosaka S, Tanaka T, Togawa O, Amano H, Karasev EV, Minakawa M, Noriki S (2008) Deep sea circulation of particulate organic carbon in the Japan Sea. J Oceanogr 64:911–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Park JS, Kang CK, An KH (1991) Community structure and spatial distribution of phytoplankton in the polar front region off the east coast of Korea in summer. Bull Korean Fish Soc 24:237–247 (in Korean)Google Scholar
  53. Park KA, Chung JY, Kim K (2004) Sea surface temperature fronts in the East (Japan) Sea and temporal variations. Geophys Res Lett 31:L07304. doi:10.1029/2004GL019424Google Scholar
  54. Park KA, Ullman DS, Kim K, Chung JY, Kim KR (2007) Spatial and temporal variability of satellite-observed Subpolar Front in the East/Japan Sea. Deep-Sea Res Pt I 54:453–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Peters KE, Sweeney RE, Kaplan IR (1978) Correlation of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in sedimentary organic matter. Limnol Oceanogr 23:598–604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Prahl FG, de Lange GJ, Scholten S, Cowie GL (1997) A case of post-depositional aerobic degradation of terrestrial organic matter in turbidite deposits from the Madeira Abyssal Plain. Org Geochem 27:141–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rau GH, Froelich PN, Takahashi T, Des Marais DJ (1991) Does sedimentary organic δ13C record variations in quaternary ocean [CO2(aq)]? Paleoceanography 6:335–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rau GH, Riesebell U, Wolf-Gladrow D (1997) CO2aq-dependent photosynthetic 13C fractionation in the ocean: a model versus measurements. Global Biogeochem Cy 11:267–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rees AP, Law CS, Malcolm E, Woodward S (2006) High rates of nitrogen fixation during an in-situ phosphate release experiment in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Geophys Res Lett 33:L10607. doi:10.1029/2006GL025791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Saino T (1992) 15N and 13C natural abundance in suspended particulate organic matter from a Kuroshio warm-core ring. Deep-Sea Res 39:347–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Senjyu T, Shin HR, Yoon JH, Nagano Z, An HS, Byun SK, Lee CK (2005) Deep flow field in the Japan/East Sea as deduced from direct current measurements. Deep-Sea Res Pt II 52:1726–1741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sweeney RE, Kaplan IR (1980) Natural abundances of 15N as a source indicator for near-shore marine sedimentary and dissolved nitrogen. Mar Chem 9:81–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tamelander T, Soreide, JE, Hop H, Carroll M (2006) Fractionation of stable isotopes in the Arctic marine copepod Calanus glacialis: effects on the isotopic composition of marine particulate organic matter. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 333:231–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Takematsu M, Nagano Z, Ostrovskii AG, Kim K, Volkov Y (1999) Direct measurements of deep currents in the northern Japan Sea. J Oceanogr 55:207–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Tremblay JE, Michel C, Hobson KA, Gosselin M, Price NM (2006) Bloom dynamics in early opening waters of the Arctic Ocean. Limnol Oceanogr 51:900–912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wada E, Minagawa M, Mizutani H, Tsuji T, Imaizumi R, Karasawa K (1987) Biogeochemical studies on the transport of organic matter along the Otsuchi River watershed, Japan. Estuar Coast Shelf S 25:321–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Woodworth M, Goni M, Tappa E, Tedesco K, Thunell R, Astor Y, Varela R, Diaz-Ramos JR, Müller-Karger F (2004) Oceanographic controls on the carbon isotopic compositions of sinking particles from the Cariaco Basin. Deep-Sea Res Pt I 51:1955–1974CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Yamada K, Ishizaka J (2006) Estimation of interdecadal change of spring bloom timing, in the case of the Japan Sea. Geophys Res Lett 33:L02608. doi:10.1029/2005GL024792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Yamada K, Ishizaka J, Nagata H (2005) Spatial and temporal variability of satellite primary production in the Japan Sea from 1998 to 2002. J Oceanogr 61:857–869CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Yamada K, Ishizaka J, Yoo S, Kim HC, Chiba S (2004) Seasonal and interannual variability of sea surface chlorophyll a concentration in the Japan/East Sea (JES). Prog Oceanogr 61:193–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Yoo S, Kim HC (2004) Suppresion and enhancement of the spring bloom in the southwestern East Sea/Japan Sea. Deep-Sea Res Pt II 51:1093–1111CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology (KIOST) and the Korean Society of Oceanography (KSO) and Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boo-Keun Khim
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shigeyoshi Otosaka
    • 2
  • Kyung-Ae Park
    • 3
  • Shinichiro Noriki
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Oceanography, College of Natural SciencesPusan National UniversityBusanKorea
  2. 2.Research Group for Environmental ScienceJapan Atomic Energy AgencyTokaiJapan
  3. 3.Department of Earth Science Education, College of Natural SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  4. 4.Graduate School of Environmental Earth ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

Personalised recommendations