Variability of Settling Particles Fluxes and Isotopic Composition (δ13C and δ15N) from Material Trapped in Coastal Reefs of Abrolhos Bank, Eastern Brazilian Shelf

Saulo Spanó, André Luiz Belem, Maria do Rosário Zucchi, Paulo de Oliveira Mafalda Junior, Alessandro Lopes Aguiar, José Roberto Bispo de Sousa, Iracema Reimão Silva, Antônio Expedito Gomes de Azevedo


Elemental and isotopic ratios (C/N, δ13C, δ15N) of sediment samples captured by PVC traps in eight stations along the coastal reefs of the Abrolhos region, Brazil, were analyzed. The study area is characterized by the influence of continental sediments on biogenic sediments. The highest δ13C values were found in the Sebastião Gomes (second shallower station), with average values close to -15‰ in all sampling periods. The isotopic ratio of carbon and nitrogen indicates that the organic matter analyzed has marine origin, with signature features of oceanic regions. The highest C/N ratio average value of 8.29 occurred in Nova Viçosa (the southernmost station and one of the shallowest) during the spring, in other seasons the average value was close to 7 in all periods. Although the values of C/N indicate a significantly marine contribution, δ15N values suggest that N series recycling processes are frequent during the time that the material remained in the environment. The results will provide a baseline for future environmental monitoring and studies on changes in sediment composition in an important set of coastal coral reefs.


Sediment traps; Abrolhos; Stable isotopes

Full Text:



Barros, G.V.; Martinelli, L.A.; Oliveira Novais, T.M.; Ometto, J.P. & Zuppi, G.M. 2010. Stable isotopes of bulk organic matter to trace carbon and nitrogen dynamics in an estuary ecosystem in Babitonga Bay (Santa Catarina, Brazil). Science of the Total Environment, 408: 2226-2232.

Carreira, R.S.; Wagener, A.L.R.; Readman, J.W.; Fileman, T.W.; Macko, S.A. & Veiga, A. 2002. Changes in the sedimentary organic carbon pool of a fertilized tropical estuary Guanabara Bay Brazil: an elemental isotopic and molecular marker approach. Marine Chemistry, 79: 207-227.

Cifuentes, L.A.; Sharp, J.H. & Fogel, M.L. 1988. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope biogeochemistry in the Delaware estuary. Limnology and Oceanography, 35: 1102-1115.

Cifuentes, L.A.; Fogel, M.L.; Pennock, J.R. & Sharp, J.H. 1989. Biogeochemical factors that influence the stable nitrogen isotope ratio of dissolved ammonium in the Delaware Estuary. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 53: 2713-2721.

Deines, P. 1980. The isotopic Composition of Reduced Organic Carbon. In: FRITZ, P. & FONTES, J.C.H. (ed.). Handbook of Environmental Isotope Geochemistry. Amsterdam, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, p. 329-406.

Dutra, L.X.C.; Kikuchi, R.K.P & Leão, Z.M.A.N. 2004. Effects of sediment accumulation on reef corals from Abrolhos, Bahia, Brazil. Journal of Coastal Research, 39: 633-638.

Freudenthal, T.; Wagner, T.; Wenzhöfer, F.; Zabel, M. & Wefer, G. 2001. Early diagenesis of organic matter from sediments of the eastern subtropical Atlantic: evidence from stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 65: 1795-1808.

Fry, B. & Sherr, E.B. 1984. δ13C measurements as indicators of carbon flow in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Contributions in Marine Science, 27: 13-74.

Goñi, M.A.; Ruttenberg, K.C. & Eglinton, T.I. 1997. Sources and contribution of terrigenous organic carbon to surface sediments in the Gulf of Mexico. Nature 389: 275-278.

Guo, L.; Tanaka, T.; Wang, D.; Tanaka, N. & Murata, A. 2004. Distributions speciation and stable isotope composition of organic matter in the southeastern Bering Sea. Marine Chemisty, 91: 211-226.

Hedges, J.I. & Parker, P.L. 1976. Le-derived organic matter in surface sediments from the Gulf of Mexico. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 40: 1019-1029.

Hedges, J.I. & Keil, R.G. 1995. Sedimentary organic matter preservation: an assessment and speculative synthesis. Marine Chemistry, 49: 81-115.

Hedges, J.I. & Keil, R.G. 1997. What happens to terrestrial organic matter in the ocean? Organic Geochemistry, 27: 195-212.

Hoefs, J. 2009. Stable Isotope Geochemistry. Berlin Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag, 286p.

Högberg, P. 1997. 15N natural abundance in soil-plant systems. New Phytologist, 137:179-203.

Kumara, M.P. 2011. The Impacts of Tree Density on the Physical and Biological Characteristics of Planted Mangrove Stands in Sri Lanka. PhD thesis Edinburgh Napier University, School of Lifesciences, Edinburgh, Scotland, 314p.

Legendre, L. & Legendre, P. 1984. Ecologie Numérique 1 Le traitement multiple des données écologiques. Québec, 197p.

Leps, A. & Smilauer, P. 1998. CANOCO Reference Manual User´s Guide to Canoco for Windows. Ithaca, Microcomputer Power, 352p.

Lucotte, M.; Hillaire-Marcel, C. & Louchouarn, P. 1991. First-order organic carbon budget in the St Lawrence Lower estuary from 13C data. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 32: 297-312.

Martinelli, L.P.; Ometto, J.; Ferraz, E.; Victoria, R.; Camargo, P. & Moreira, M. 2009. Desvendando Questões Ambientais com Isótopos Estáveis. São Paulo, Oficina de Textos, 144p.

Middelburg, J.J. & Nieuwenhuize, J. 1998. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in suspended matter and sediments from the Schelde Estuary. Marine Chemisty, 60: 217-225.

Ogrinc, N.; Fontolan, G.; Faganeli, J. & Covelli, S. 2005. Carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions of organic matter in coastal marine sediments the Gulf of Trieste N Adriatic Sea indicators of sources and preservation. Marine Chemisty, 95: 163-181.

Ostrom, N.E.; Macko, S.A. & Thompson, R.J. 1997. Seasonal variation in the stable carbon and nitrogen isotope biogeochemistry of a coastal cold ocean environment. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 61: 2929-2942.

Peters, K.E.; Sweeney, R.E. & Kaplan, R.I. 1978. Correlation of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in sedimentary organic matter. Limnology and Oceanography, 23: 598-604.

Prahl, F.G.; Lange, J.R.; Scholten, S. & Cowie, G. L. 1997. A case of post-depositional aerobic degradation of terrestrial organic matter in turbidite deposits from the Madeira Abyssal Plain. Organic Geochemistry, 27: 141-152.

Raymond, P.A. & Bauer, J.E. 2001a. Riverine export of aged terrestrial organic matter to the North Atlantic Ocean. Nature, 409: 497-500.

Raymond, P.A & Bauer, J.E. 2001b. Use of 14C and 13C natural abundances for evaluating riverine, estuarine, and coastal DOC and POC sources and cycling: a review and synthesis. Organic Geochemisty, 32: 469-485.

Rogers, K.M. 2003. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures indicate recovery of marine biota from sewage pollution at Moa Point New Zealand. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 46: 821-827.

Saito, Y.; Nishimura, A. & Matsumoto, E. 1989. Transgressive se sheet covering the shelf and upper slope off Sendai, Northeast Japan. Marine Geology, 89: 245-258.

Segal, B. 2013. Corais e comunidades recifais e sua relação com a sedimentação no Banco dos Abrolhos, Brasil. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Biológicas (Zoologia), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Tese de Doutorado, 133p.

Segal, B.; Evangelista, H.; Kampel, M.; Gonçalves, A.C.; Polito, P.S & Santos, E.A. 2008. Potential impacts of polar fronts on sedimentation processes at Abrolhos coral reef (South-West Atlantic Ocean/Brazil). Continental Shelf Research, 24: 533-544.

Sigleo, A.C. & Macko, S.A. 2002. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes in suspended particles and colloids, Chesapeake and San Francisco estuaries, USA. Estuarine, Coastal Shelf Science, 54: 701-711.

Souza, J.R.B.; Costa, A.B.; Azevedo, A.E.G.; Santos, T.H.R.; Spanó, S.; Lentini, C.A.D.; Bonagamba, T.J.; Silva, R.O.; Novotny, E.H.; & Zucchi, M.R. 2013. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope compositions of organic matter in marine sediment cores from the Abrolhos region: indicators of sources and preservation. Geochimica Brasiliensis, 27: 13-23.

Souza, J.R.B.; Zucchi, M.R.; Costa, A.B.; Azevedo, A.E.G. & Spanó, S. 2017. Geochemical markers of sedimentary organic matter in Todos os Santos Bay, Bahia – Brazil. Indicators of sources and preservation. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 119: 239-246.

Spanó, S.; Belém, A.L.; Doria, R.N.; Zucchi, M.R.; Sousa, J.R.B.; Costa, A.B.; Lentini, C.A.D & Azevedo, A.E.G. 2014. Application of organic carbon and nitrogen stable isotope and C/N ratios as source indicators of organic matter of Nova Viçosa-Caravelas estuarine complex, southern Bahia, Brazil. Brazilian Journal of Geology, 44: 13-21.

Stein, R. 1991. Accumulation of organic carbon in marine sediments. Results from the Deep-Sea Drilling Project/Ocean Drilling Program. Berlin, Springer, 219p.

Struck, U.; Emeis, K.C.; Voss, M.; Christiansen, C. & Kunzendorf, H. 2000. Records of southern and central Baltic Sea eutrophication in δ13C and δ15N of sedimentary organic matter. Marine Geology, 164: 157-171.

Teixeira, C.E.P.; Lessa, G.C.; Cirano, M. & Lentini, C.A.D. 2013. The inner shelf circulation on the Abrolhos Bank, 180S, Brazil. Continental Shelf Research, 70: 13-26.

Voß, M. & Struck, U. 1997. Stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes as indicator of eutrophication of the Oder river (Baltic Sea) Marine Chemisty, 59: 35-49.

Voss, M.; Larsen, B.; Leivuori ,M & Vallius, H. 2000. Stable isotope signals of eutrophication in Baltic Sea sediments. Journal of Marine Systems, 25: 287-298.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Indexers and Bibliographic Databases

Social Media

SCImago Journal & Country Rank
24th percentile
Powered by  Scopus
Google Scholar
 Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.