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OMEN-SED 1.0: A novel, numerically efficient organic matter sediment diagenesis module for coupling to Earth system models

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Dominik Hülse
  • Sandra Arndt
  • Stuart Daines
  • Pierre Regnier
  • Andy Ridgwell
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2649-2689
Number of pages41
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number7
Early online date9 Jul 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Jun 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jul 2018
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2018


We present the first version of OMEN-SED (Organic Matter ENabled SEDiment model), a new, onedimensional analytical early diagenetic model resolving organic matter cycling and the associated biogeochemical dynamics in marine sediments designed to be coupled to Earth system models. OMEN-SED explicitly describes organic matter (OM) cycling and the associated dynamics of the most important terminal electron acceptors (i.e. O2, NO3, SO4) and methane (CH4), related reduced substances (NH4, H2S), macronutrients (PO4) and associated pore water quantities (ALK, DIC). Its reaction network accounts for the most important primary and secondary redox reactions, equilibrium reactions, mineral dissolution and precipitation, as well as adsorption and desorption processes associated with OM dynamics that affect the dissolved and solid species explicitly resolved in the model. To represent a redox-dependent sedimentary P cycle we also include a representation of the formation and burial of Fe-bound P and authigenic Ca-P minerals. Thus, OMEN-SED is able to capture the main features of diagenetic dynamics in marine sediments and therefore offers similar predictive abilities as a complex, numerical diagenetic model. Yet, its computational efficiency allows for its coupling to global Earth system models and therefore the investigation of coupled global biogeochemical dynamics over a wide range of climate-relevant timescales. This paper provides a detailed description of the new sediment model, an extensive sensitivity analysis and an evaluation of OMEN-SED's performance through comprehensive comparisons with observations and results from a more complex numerical model. We find that solid-phase and dissolved pore water profiles for different ocean depths are reproduced with good accuracy and simulated terminal electron acceptor fluxes fall well within the range of globally observed fluxes. Finally, we illustrate its application in an Earth system model framework by coupling OMEN-SED to the Earth system model cGENIE and tune the OM degradation rate constants to optimise the fit of simulated benthic OM contents to global observations. We find that the simulated sediment characteristics of the coupled model framework, such as OM degradation rates, oxygen penetration depths and sediment-water interface fluxes, are generally in good agreement with observations and in line with what one would expect on a global scale. Coupled to an Earth system model, OMENSED is thus a powerful tool that will not only help elucidate the role of benthic-pelagic exchange processes in the evolution and the termination of a wide range of climate events, but will also allow for a direct comparison of model output with the sedimentary record - the most important climate archive on Earth.

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