Rapidly eroding, coastal mountain belts, where steep rivers and submarine channels connect upland sources to nearby marine sinks are hotspots of organic carbon transfer from life biomass, soil and exhumed bedrock into geological storage. Using observations from the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and Taiwan, we have mapped this organic pathway to geological carbon sequestration, and can evaluate the magnitude and efficiency of transfers between sources and sinks. We demonstrate that POC is harvested by landsliding, but importantly also by common and widespread surface runoff on steep hillslopes. Although terrestrially sourced POC is found in many sedimentary environments associated with mountain belts and frontier basins, it appears to be most abundantly trapped and preserved in marine turbidites. The loss of all forms of POC in onward transport through short, steep routing systems to this repository is limited. This is in marked contrast to larger routing systems, in which only the most resilient forms of POC survive into long-term deposition. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.