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The benthic diagenetic model OMEXDIA has been used to reproduce observed benthic pore water and solid phase profiles obtained during the OMEX study in the Goban Spur Area (N.E. Atlantic), and to dynamically model benthic profiles at site OMEX III (3660-m depth), with the sediment trap organic flux as external forcing. The results of the dynamic modelling show that the organic flux as determined from the lowermost sediment trap (400 metres above the bottom) at OMEX III is insufficient to explain the organic carbon and pore water profiles. The best fitting was obtained by maintaining the seasonal pattern as observed in the traps, while multiplying the absolute values of the flux by a factor of 1.85. The "inverse modelling" of diagenetic processes resulted in estimates of total mineralisation rate and of degradability of the organic matter at the different stations. These diagenetic model-based estimates are used to constrain the patterns of lateral and vertical transports of organic matter. Using the observed degradability as a function of depth, we show that the observed organic matter fluxes at the different depths are consistent with a model where at all stations along the gradient the same vertical export flux occurs at 200m, and where organic matter sinks with a constant sinking rate of around 130 m d(-1). If sinking rates were higher, in the order of 200 m d(-1), the observations could be consistent with an off-slope gradient in export production of approximately a factor of 1.5 between the shallowest and deepest sites. The derived high degradability of the arriving organic matter and the consistency of the mass fluxes at the different stations exclude the possibility of a massive deposition, on the margin, of organic matter produced on the shelf or shelf break. However, other hypotheses to explain the patterns found in the sediment trap data of both OMEX and other continental margin study sites also suffer from different inconsistencies. Further, close examination of the flow patterns at the margin will be needed to examine the question. [KEYWORDS: European continental-margin; organic-matter diagenesis; deep-sea sediments; marine-sediments; ocean margins; oxygen-demand; amino-acids; atlantic; model; fluxes]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3245-3264
JournalDeep Sea Research Part II-Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number14-15
StatePublished - 2001

ID: 210122