Sources, distribution, and decomposition stages of sedimentary organic matter in estuaries and its adjacent areas

Lignin-derived phenols, C/N ratios and ratios of refractory to total organic matter were used to study the sources, distribution, and diagenesis of sedimentary organic matter along estuary, river bank, and salt marsh systems. The Changjiang Estuary showed a higher signal of terrestrial organic matter at the river mouth which decreased farther offshore. The locations along the Qiantang River were affected by their adjacent surroundings, and the Andong salt marsh showed higher terrestrial organic matter signal at the upper marsh compared to the lower marsh. All studied areas showed slight increases in organic matter decomposition farther downstream and towards the sea. Study of these three different systems will improve our understanding on their ecotoxicological impact. The Changjiang Estuary had higher pollutant levels near the river mouth, which decreased farther offshore due to dilution. The midstream Qiantang River was most likely affected by pollution from their adjacent surroundings. Pollutants were likely to be accumulated in the Andong salt marsh due to the presence of marsh plants and small-sized particles. Organic pollutants were likely to be decomposed during transport along the systems. The ability of the sediments to release inorganic pollutants was determined by whether these systems were oxic or anoxic.