Black carbon and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in surface sediments of China's marginal seas

Yanju Kang, Xuchen Wang, Minhan Dai, Huan Feng, Anchun Li, Qian Song

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40 Scopus citations


This study investigates the distribution of black carbon (BC) and its correlation with total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (ΣPAH) in the surface sediments of China's marginal seas. BC content ranges from >0.10 to 2.45 mg/g dw (grams dry weight) in the sediments studied, and varied among the different coastal regions. The Bohai Bay sediments had the highest BC contents (average 2.18 mg/g dw), which comprises a significant fraction (27%-41%) of the total organic carbon (TOC) preserved in the sediments. In comparison, BC in the surface sediments of the North Yellow Sea, Jiaozhou Bay, East China Sea and the South China Sea is less abundant and accounted for an average of 6%, 8%, 14% and 5%, respectively, of the sedimentary organic carbon pool. The concentration of ΣPAH in the surface sediments ranges from 41 to 3 667 ng/g dw and showed large spatial variations among the sampling sites of different costal regions. The Bohai Bay has the highest ΣPAH values, ranging from 79 to 3 667 ng/g dw. This reflects the high anthropogenically contaminated nature of the sediments in the bay. BC is positively correlated to TOC but a strong correlation is not found between BC and ΣPAH in the surface sediments studied, suggesting that BC and PAHs preserved in the sediments are derived from different sources and controlled by different biogeochemical processes. Our study suggests that the abundance of BC preserved in the sediments could represent a significant sink pool of carbon cycling in China's marginal seas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-308
Number of pages12
JournalChinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Black carbon
  • China's marginal seas
  • PAH
  • carbon cycle
  • marine sediment


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