What is it about?

Detrital carbonate minerals, or limestone fragments, are transported by river to the ocean where they might play an important role for biogeochemical cycles on a global and regional scale. Here we quantify individual river basin export fluxes, the global export flux to the ocean, and its reduction by human influence, utilizing state-of-the-art regression techniques and published global-scale data sets. Results point to a significance of riverine detrital carbonates for the global mass balances of carbon, calcium, alkalinity, and strontium, which might help in solving long-standing problems in elemental budgeting and improve our understanding of the carbon cycle.

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Why is it important?

Detrital carbonates are a commonly neglected or ignored constituent several biogeochemical cycles and as a result, comprehensible state-of-the-art quantification, as well as an assessment of its potential role in these biogeochemical cycles were missing. Here we fill this gap and provide a conceptual framework for the integration of this flux into inorganic carbon and calcium cycling.


I hope this article will increase awareness of the role river sediments can play in marine biogeochemical cycles, and associated human disturbances of the corresponding fluxes (e.g., through land-use or damming). Moreover, the methodology proposed may guide efficient usage of the wealth of data provided by the GloRiSe database - especially in combination with other river-related databases, such as HydroBASINS.

Gerrit Müller
Universiteit Utrecht

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This page is a summary of: Detrital Carbonate Minerals in Earth's Element Cycles, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, May 2022, American Geophysical Union (AGU),
DOI: 10.1029/2021gb007231.
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