Evidence of terrestrial organic carbon inputs on Niger Delta Sea Shelf
The objective of this research is to determine the actual source of organic matter in the Niger Delta Sea Shelf (NDSS). Organic carbon (OC) and n-alkanes were investigated in the suspended matter (SM) and surfcial sediments of the Niger and Imo Rivers and the opposite Niger Delta Sea Shelf. Organic nitrogen and carbon isotope (δ13C) values were determined as additional parameters in the sediments. OC and n-alkane concentrations were highly variable. This variability was interpreted as the result of sources of materials from the inland basins and a complex sedimentation pattern involving the discharges of these two rivers. Using the constant ratio of high molecular weight odd n-alkanes to OC in both rivers, the estimated value of more than 70% of the OC preserved in shelf sediments were terrestrially-derived. This result was substantiated by the overall dominance of land-derived n-alkanes. A second approach using δ13C values and assuming binary dilution of riverine and marine OC led to the determined source of organic matter.
Keywords: Organic carbon; δ13C; n-Alkanes; Niger River; Imo River; Niger Delta Sea Shelf.