14 Nov 2020

14 Nov 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

MOSAIC (Modern Ocean Sediment Archive and Inventory of Carbon): A (radio)carbon-centric database for seafloor surficial sediments

Tessa Sophia van der Voort1,a, Thomas M. Blattmann1,b, Muhammed Usman1,c, Daniel Montluçon1, Thomas Loeffler1, Maria Luisa Tavagna1, Nicolas Gruber2, and Timothy Ian Eglinton1 Tessa Sophia van der Voort et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Geological Institute, ETH Zürich, Sonneggstrasse 5, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2Department of Environmental System Sciences, Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, ETH Zürich, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
  • anew address: Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen, Wirdumerdijk 34, Leeuwarden
  • bnew address: Biogeochemistry Research Center, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Yokosuka, Japan
  • cnew address: Dept. of physical and environmental Sciences, University of Toronto M1CA4 Ontario, Canada

Abstract. Mapping the biogeochemical characteristics of surficial ocean sediments is crucial for advancing our understanding of global element cycling, as well as for assessment of the potential footprint of environmental change. Despite their importance as long-term repositories for biogenic materials produced in the ocean and delivered from the continents, biogeochemical signatures in ocean sediments remain poorly delineated. Here, we introduce MOSAIC (Modern Ocean Sediment Archive and Inventory of Carbon; DOI:,, Van der Voort et al., 2019), a (radio)carbon-centric database that seeks to address this information void. The goal of this nascent database is to provide a platform for development of regional to global-scale perspectives on the source, abundance and composition of organic matter in marine surface sediments, and to explore links between spatial variability in these characteristics and biological and depositional processes. The database has a continental margin-centric focus given both the importance and complexity of continental margins as sites of organic matter burial. It places emphasis on radiocarbon as an underutilized yet powerful tracer and chronometer of carbon cycle processes, and with a view to complementing radiocarbon databases for other earth system compartments. The database infrastructure and interactive web-application are openly accessible and designed to facilitate further expansion of the database. Examples are presented to illustrate large-scale variabilities in bulk carbon properties that emerge from the present data compilation.

Tessa Sophia van der Voort et al.

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Tessa Sophia van der Voort et al.

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MOSAIC – database of Modern Ocean Sediment Archive and Inventory of Carbon Van der Voort, T. S., Loeffler, T. J., Montlucon, D., Blattmann, T. M., and Eglinton, T.

Tessa Sophia van der Voort et al.


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Short summary
Ocean sediments form the largest and most long-term storage or organic carbon. Despite their global importance, information on these sediments is often scattered, incomplete or inaccessible. Here we present MOSAIC (Modern Ocean Sediment Archive and Inventory of Carbon,, a (radio)carbon-centric database that addresses this information gap. This database provides a platform for assessing the transport, deposition and storage of carbon in ocean surface sediments.