Tidal dynamics and mangrove carbon sequestration during the Oligo-Miocene in the South China Sea

Daniel S. Collins*, Alexandros Avdis, Peter A. Allison, Howard D. Johnson, Jon Hill, Matthew D. Piggott, Meor H.Amir Hassan, Abdul Razak Damit

*Corresponding author for this work

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Modern mangroves are among the most carbon-rich biomes on Earth, but their long-term (≥10 6 years) impact on the global carbon cycle is unknown. The extent, productivity and preservation of mangroves are controlled by the interplay of tectonics, global sea level and sedimentation, including tide, wave and fluvial processes. The impact of these processes on mangrove-bearing successions in the Oligo-Miocene of the South China Sea (SCS) is evaluated herein. Palaeogeographic reconstructions, palaeotidal modelling and facies analysis suggest that elevated tidal range and bed shear stress optimized mangrove development along tide-influenced tropical coastlines. Preservation of mangrove organic carbon (OC) was promoted by high tectonic subsidence and fluvial sediment supply. Lithospheric storage of OC in peripheral SCS basins potentially exceeded 4,000 Gt (equivalent to 2,000 p.p.m. of atmospheric CO2). These results highlight the crucial impact of tectonic and oceanographic processes on mangrove OC sequestration within the global carbon cycle on geological timescales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15698
Number of pages12
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2017

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