This study emphasizes the importance of rainstorm events in mobilizing carbon at the soil-stream interface from tropical rainforests. Half-hourly geochemical/isotopic records over a 13.5 h period from a 20 km tropical rainforest headwater in Guyana show an order of magnitude increase in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration in less than 30 mins (10.6–114 mg/L). The composition of DOC varies significantly and includes optically invisible dissolved organic matter (iDOM) that accounts for a large proportion (4–89%) of the total DOC, quantified using size exclusion chromatography (SEC).

Coastal ecosystems are sensitive to changes in the quantity and lability of terrigenous dissolved organic matter (DOM) delivered by rivers. The lability of DOM is thought to decrease with age, but this view stems from work in watersheds where terrestrial plant and soil sources dominate streamwater DOM.