USC/Caltech Organic Carbon Reading Group Winter 2014

Instructors: Josh West, Woody Fischer, Michael Lamb.

Class Number: Caltech students register for Ge126.

Time: Wednesdays 9:30 to 11:30. Meetings are approximately every other week rotating between Caltech and USC. Add an addition 30 min. transit on either side when class is not at your institution.

Place: Rotating between Caltech and USC. Room to be determined.

Workload: All readings are required. Each paper will have a student lead for the paper discussion. All other students are required to bring three questions or comments about each paper each week.

Tentative Reading List


(1) January 8: Caltech

Organic carbon in the long-term carbon cycle

Galy, V., Beyssac, O., France-Lanord, C., Eglinton, T., 2008. Recycling of Graphite During Himalayan Erosion: A Geological Stabilization of Carbon in the Crust. Science 322, 943–945.

France-Lanord, C., Derry, L.A., 1997. Organic carbon burial forcing of the carbon cycle from Himalayan erosion. Nature 390, 65–67.

Berner, R.A., 2003. The long-term carbon cycle, fossil fuels and atmospheric composition. Nature 426, 323–326.

Berner, R.A., 1982. Burial of organic carbon and pyrite sulfur in the modern ocean; its geochemical and environmental significance. American Journal of Science 282, 451–473.


(2) January 22: USC

The Eel River/Oregon coast story: Source to sink

Blair, N.E., Leithold, E.L., and Aller, R.C., 2004, From bedrock to burial: the evolution of particulate organic carbon across coupled watershed-continental margin systems: New Approaches in Marine Organic Biogeochemistry: A Tribute to the Life and Science of John I. Hedges, v. 92, no. 1–4, p. 141–156, doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2004.06.023.

Blair, N.E., Leithold, E.L., Ford, S.T., Peeler, K.A., Holmes, J.C., and Perkey, D.W., 2003, The persistence of memory: the fate of ancient sedimentary organic carbon in a modern sedimentary system: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 67, no. 1, p. 63–73, doi: 10.1016/S0016-7037(02)01043-8.


(3) February 5: Caltech

Magnitude-frequency problems

Wheatcroft, RA, MA Goñi, JA Hatten, GB Pasternack & JA Warrick. 2010. The role of effective discharge in the ocean delivery of particulate organic carbon by small, mountainous river systems. Limnology and Oceanography 55: 161-171.

West, A.J., Lin, C.-W.s, Lin, T.-C., Hilton, R.G., Liu, S.-R., Chang, C.-T., Lin, K.-C., Galy, A., Sparkes, R.B., Hovius, N., 2011. Mobilization and transport of coarse woody debris to the oceans triggered by an extreme tropical storm. Limnology and Oceanography 56, 77–85.

Dhillon, G.S., Inamdar, S., 2013. Extreme storms and changes in particulate and dissolved organic carbon in runoff: Entering uncharted waters? Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 1322–1327.]

Turowski et al., The mass distribution of coarse particulate organic matter exported from an Alpine headwater stream, Earth Surf. Dynam., 1, 1-11, 2013,


(4) February 12: Caltech


 (1) Blair and Aller, Ann Rev — this was on the original list next meeting
(2) Kao et al, Esurf - this was on the original list for the meeting after the next

 (3) Rob Sparkes’ PhD

(4) Bianchi, 2011 PNAS 


(5) March 5: Caltech

Carbon dating carbon

(1) Griffith et al., 2010 GCA v74 p6788 — this is the compilation and modeling of bulk organic radiocarbon from marine sediments

(2) Galy and Eglington, 2011 Nat Geosc v5, p843 — this will introduce us to how compound specific radiocarbon might shed light on the problem of transport/preservation, by looking isolating the effect of radiocarbon-dead fossil contributions

(3) Hoffman et al, 2014 ESurf v1, p45



 (6) March 12: Caltech

To be determined


Other papers of interest.

Hilton, R., Galy, A., and Hovius, N., 2008, Riverine particulate organic carbon from an active mountain belt: Importance of landslides: Global Biogeochemical Cycles, v. 22, no. 1, p. GB1017.

Hilton, R.G., Galy, A., Hovius, N., Horng, M.-J., and Chen, H., 2010, The isotopic composition of particulate organic carbon in mountain rivers of Taiwan: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 74, no. 11, p. 3164–3181, doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2010.03.004. Galy, V., Eglinton, T., submitted. Protracted storage of organic carbon in the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin. Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Galy, V., France-Lanord, C., Lartiges, B., 2008. Loading and fate of particulate organic carbon from the Himalaya to the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 72, 1767–1787. Hilton, R., Galy, A., Hovius, N., Chen, M.-C., Horng, M.-J., Chen, H., 2008. Tropical-cyclone-driven erosion of the terrestrial biosphere from mountains 1, 759–762.

Galy, V., Eglinton, T., France-Lanord, C., and Sylva, S., 2011, The provenance of vegetation and environmental signatures encoded in vascular plant biomarkers carried by the Ganges–Brahmaputra rivers: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 304, no. 1–2, p. 1–12, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2011.02.003.

Hilton, R., Galy, A., Hovius, N., 2008. Riverine particulate organic carbon from an active mountain belt: Importance of landslides. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 22, GB1017.

Clark, K.E., Hilton, R.G., West, A.J., Malhi, Y., Gröcke, D.R., Bryant, C.L., Ascough, P.L., Robles Caceres, A., New, M., 2013. New views on “old” carbon in the Amazon River: Insight from the source of organic carbon eroded from the Peruvian Andes. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 14, 1644–1659.

Burdige, D.J., 2005. Burial of terrestrial organic matter in marine sediments: A re-assessment. Global Biogeochem. Cycles 19, GB4011.

Galy, V., France-Lanord, C., Beyssac, O., Faure, P., Kudrass, H., Palhol, F., 2007. Efficient organic carbon burial in the Bengal fan sustained by the Himalayan erosional system. Nature 450, 407–410.

Liu, J.T., Kao, S.-J., Huh, C.-A., Hung, C.-C., 2013. Gravity Flows Associated with Flood Events and Carbon Burial: Taiwan as Instructional Source Area. Annu. Rev. Marine. Sci. 5, 47–68.