Total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN) and their δ(13)C and δ(15)N values were determined for 42 surface sediments from coastal Bohai Bay in order to determine the concentration and identify the source of organic matter. The sampling sites covered both the marine region of coastal Bohai Bay and the major rivers it connects with. More abundant TOC and TN in sediments from rivers than from the marine region reflect the situation that most of the terrestrial organic matter is deposited before it meets the sea. The spatial variation in δ(13)C and δ(15)N signatures implies that the input of organic matter from anthropogenic activities has a more significant influence on its distribution than that from natural processes. Taking the area as a whole, surface sediments in the marine region of coastal Bohai Bay are dominated by marine derived organic carbon, which on average accounts for 62±11% of TOC.
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