Abstract The flux of total organic carbon (TOC) to depositional facies (intertidal mud flat, margin and forest) was quantified for a tropical mangrove forest in Brazil. Results indicate that these mangrove margins and intertidal mudflats are sites of large TOC accumulation, almost four times greater than the global averages for mangrove forests. The TOC burial rates were determined from organic carbon content in sediment cores which were dated using 210Pb. Burial rates were calculated to be 1129, 949, and 353 (g m −2 yr −1), for the mud flat, margin and forest, respectively. Sediment accumulation rates (SAR) were estimated to be 7.3, 5.0 and 2.8 mm yr −1. Sediment characterization (δ 13C, δ 15N, TOC/TN and mud fraction) indicated a representative mangrove system with a record of consistent organic matter flux of up to 100 years. Because of substantial burial of organic carbon in mangrove ecosystems, their role in the global carbon budget must be considered. More importantly, as climate change influences temperature and sea level, mangrove ecosystems will respond to specific climatic conditions.