Geochemistry International

, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 431–455 | Cite as

Masses of carbon in the Earth’s hydrosphere

  • E. A. Romankevich
  • A. A. Vetrov


Recent data were summarized on the concentration and mass of inorganic and organic carbon in reservoirs of the Earth’s hydrosphere. We compared carbon masses and accumulation conditions in the surface hydrosphere and waters of the sedimentary shell and proportions between carbonate, dissolved, and suspended particulate organic carbon. It was shown that the total masses of carbon in the surface hydrosphere and in the waters of the sedimentary shell are approximately equal to 80 × 1018 g C at an organic to carbonate carbon ratio of 1 : 36 and 1 : 43, respectively. Three main forms of organic compounds in the ocean (living organisms, suspended particles, and dissolved species) occur in the proportion 1 : 13 : 250 and form the pyramid of masses 4 × 1015 g, 50 × 1015 g, and 1000 × 1015 g Corg. The descending sequence of the organic to carbonate carbon ratio in water, ocean (1 : 36) > glaciers (1 : 8) > lakes (1 : 2) > rivers (1 : 0.6) > wetlands (1 : 0.3), is in general consistent with an increase in the same direction in the mean concentrations of organic matter: 0.77 mg Corg/L in the ocean, 0.7 mg Corg/L in glaciers, 6–30 mg Corg/L in lakes, 15 mg Corg/L in rivers, and 75 mg Corg/L in wetlands. Both the mean concentrations and masses of dissolved organic matter in the pore waters of oceanic sediments and in the waters of the sedimentary shell are similar: 36–37 mg/L and 5 × 1018 and 5.6 × 1018 g, respectively. The mass of carbonate carbon in the pore waters of the ocean, (19–33) × 1018 g, is comparable with its mass in the water column, 38.1 × 1018 g.


hydrosphere organic and inorganic carbon carbon mass carbon flux ocean rivers lakes impoundments wetlands soil sedimentation water underground glaciers 


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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shirshov Institute of OceanologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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