An abyssal hill fractionates organic and inorganic matter in deep-sea surface sediments

Robert Turnewitsch, Niko Lahajnar, Matthias Haeckel, Bernd Christiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Current estimates suggest that more than 60% of the global seafloor are covered by millions of abyssal hills and mountains. These features introduce spatial fluid-dynamic “granularity” whose influence on deep-ocean sediment biogeochemistry is unknown. Here we compare biogeochemical surface-sediment properties from a fluid-dynamically well-characterized abyssal hill and upstream plain: (1) In hill sediments, organic-carbon and -nitrogen contents are only about half as high as on the plain while proteinaceous material displays less degradation; (2) on the hill, more coarse-grained sediments (reducing particle surface area) and very variable calcite contents (influencing particle surface charge) are proposed to reduce the extent, and influence compound-specificity, of sorptive organic-matter preservation. Further studies are needed to estimate the representativeness of the results in a global context. Given millions of abyssal hills and mountains, their integrative influence on formation and composition of deep-sea sediments warrants more attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7663-7672
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number18
Early online date27 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2015


  • abyssal hill
  • abyssal mountain
  • benthos
  • carbon
  • amino acid
  • fluid dynamics


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