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Keywords:

  • carbon cycle;
  • marine sediments;
  • terrestrial organic matter

[1] Calculations based on recent observations indicate that approximately one third of the organic matter presently being buried in marine sediments may be of terrestrial origin, with the majority of this terrestrial organic matter (TOM) burial occurring in muddy, deltaic sediments. These calculations further suggest that the remineralization of terrestrial organic matter in the oceans is also much less efficient than that of marine organic matter. These two underappreciated observations have important implications in terms of our understanding of the controls on the global carbon cycle. From a paleoceanographic perspective, the results presented here also suggest that changes in TOM burial on glacial-interglacial timescales have the potential to impact the global carbon cycle (i.e., atmospheric CO2 levels).