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Holocene organic carbon burial rates in the Baltic coast

  • Shi-Yong Yu
  • Björn Berglund
  • Per Sandgren
  • Steven M. Coleman
Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 673-681
Publication/Series: The Holocene
Volume: 17
Issue: 5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: SAGE Publications

Abstract english

To estimate Holocene changes in organic carbon mass accumulation rates (Corg MARs) in the

southeastern Swedish Baltic Sea, two sediment cores were studied in combination with biogeochemical

modelling. Prior to 11 300 cal. BP, Corg MARs were extremely low, indicating low organic matter production

on the catchment of the Baltic Ice Lake. Following a brief regression, the Ancylus Lake stage occurred

between 11 100 and 9800 cal. BP. Corg MARs increased substantially during this period because of

enhanced washing in of terrestrial organic matter, when boreal forests were initially established. The

prominent marine stage, known as the Littorina transgression between 8500 and 3000 cal. BP, is marked

by a minor increase in Corg MARs. Our modelling reveals a changing terrestrial organic carbon input

between 100 and 1000 g/m2 per yr that accounts for 30–80% of total organic carbon in sediments of the

southeastern Swedish Baltic Sea, with maximum values (c. 20 x 103 g/m2 per yr) occurring during the

Bronze/Iron Age transition at about 3000 cal. BP. Corg MAR in the entire Baltic basin is estimated at

3.01 x 106 t/yr during the pre-industrial Holocene, comparable with other large inland water bodies.

Regardless of the source of carbon, our data indicate that the Baltic basin is an important sedimentary

reservoir for organic carbon storage and thus should be included in accounting for global terrestrial carbon

cycling during the pre-industrial Holocene.


  • Geology
  • Holocene
  • southeastern Sweden
  • carbon cycling.
  • organic carbon burial rates
  • Baltic Sea
  • early diagenesis


  • ISSN: 0959-6836
Björn E Berglund
E-mail: bjorn [dot] berglund [at] geol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emeritus

Quaternary Sciences