Letter | Published:

Molecular evidence for a terrestrial component of organic matter dissolved in ocean water

Nature volume 321, pages 6163 (01 May 1986) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) in seawater represents one of the largest active carbon reservoirs on Earth1. Although mass-balance calculations suggest a substantial riverine input to the marine DOM pool2, a terrestrial organic component has not been positively identified in open-ocean water. By using lignin-derived phenols as molecular-level probes of DOM (analogous to previous studies in sediments3–5), we report here the first unambiguous evidence for the presence of terrestrially derived DOM in open ocean water. Dissolved humic substances, isolated by resin adsorption from near-surface water of the eastern equatorial Pacific, yield lignin-derived phenols in compositional patterns which resemble those obtained from Amazon River water6,7. Total phenol yields from these open-ocean humic isolates are, on average, 10% of those from Amazon humic substances, indicating that 10% of dissolved marine humic material (and at least 0.5% of the bulk marine DOM) is terrestrially derived.

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Affiliations

  1. School of Oceanography, WB-10, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA

    • Kathleen J. Meyers-Schulte
    •  & John I. Hedges

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https://doi.org/10.1038/321061a0

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