Characterizing the depositional settings for sedimentary organic matter distributions in the Lower Yangtze River-East China Sea Shelf System

Chun Zhu*, Zhang-Hua Wang, Bin Xue, Pei-Song Yu, Jian-Ming Pan, Thomas Wagner, Richard D. Pancost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Grain-size distributions, total organic carbon (TOC) and total nitrogen (TN) concentrations, and TOC/TN ratios (C/N) were analysed for surface sediments from the Lower Yangtze River-East China Sea (ECS) shelf system. Hierarchical cluster analysis of grain-size parameters (mode, mean, sorting, skewness and kurtosis) has been employed to characterize grain-size compositions. The results suggest there are five grain-size compositional types (type-I-V) that fingerprint distinct depositional conditions. In areas with high sedimentation rates, hydrological sorting preferentially enriches the fraction coarser than 6.4empty set (12 mu m) in shallow seafloor sediments (water depth30 m), and thus forms grain-size compositional type-I (shallow) and typeII (deep). In the open shelf, where modern sediment supply is very limited, grain-size types-III V are identified according to different winnowing intensity. Overall TOC contents significantly correlate with mud proportions, suggesting muddy sediments are the primary control on OM accumulation. However, de-association of terrestrial OM from fine sediments in the Estuary and the occurrence of presumably relict OM in the open shelf exert additional controls on OM dispersal and carbon cycling in the ECS. By considering geography, oceanography, sediment source, and the relation between sedimentation conditions and sedimentary OM distributions, we define six depositional settings: the lower river, the estuary, the coast, the offshore upwelling area, the erosional area, and the open shelf. These settings describe the sediment dispersal and associated organic matter cycling in the Lower Yangtze River-ECS shelf system. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-191
Number of pages10
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011
EventWorkshop on Dynamics of Chinese Muddy Coasts and Estuaries - Guilin
Duration: 1 Sept 2009 → …


  • grain-size
  • sedimentary organic matter
  • East China Sea
  • Yangtze River
  • depositional setting


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterizing the depositional settings for sedimentary organic matter distributions in the Lower Yangtze River-East China Sea Shelf System'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this