Understanding the fate of terrestrial organic carbon (C) delivered to oceans by rivers is critical for constraining models of biogeochemical cycling and Earth surface evolution. C fate is dependent on both intrinsic characteristics (molecular structure, matrix) and the environmental conditions to which fluvial C is subjected. Three distinct patterns are evident on continental margins supplied by rivers: () high-energy, mobile muds with enhanced oxygen exposure and efficient metabolite exchange have very low preservation of both terrestrial and marine C (e.g., Amazon subaqueous delta); () low-energy facies with extreme accumulation have high C preservation (e.g., Ganges-Brahmaputra); and () small, mountainous river systems that sustain average accumulation rates but deliver a large fraction of low-reactivity, fossil C in episodic events have the highest preservation efficiencies. The global patterns of terrestrial C preservation reflect broadly different roles for passive and active margin systems in the sedimentary C cycle.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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