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Bioavailability of organic matter in a freshwater estuarine sediment: long-term degradation experiments with and without nitrate supply
Abell, J.; Laverman, A.M.; Van Cappellen, P. (2009). Bioavailability of organic matter in a freshwater estuarine sediment: long-term degradation experiments with and without nitrate supply. Biogeochemistry 94(1): 13-28. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10533-009-9296-x
In: Biogeochemistry. Springer: Dordrecht; Lancaster; Boston. ISSN 0168-2563, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Brackish water; Fresh water
Author keywords
    Organic carbon; Sediment; Bioavailability; Degradation; Nitrate reduction; Denitrification; Fermentation; Scheldt estuary

Authors  Top 
  • Abell, J.
  • Laverman, A.M.
  • Van Cappellen, P., more

Abstract
    Organic carbon degradation experiments were carried out using flow-through reactors with sediments collected from an intertidal freshwater marsh of an eutrophic estuary (The Scheldt, Belgium). Concentrations of nitrate, nitrite, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), dissolved organic carbon, methane, dissolved cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+ and K+), total dissolved Fe, phosphate and alkalinity were measured in the outflow solutions from reactors that were supplied with or without the terminal electron acceptor nitrate. Organic carbon mineralization rates were computed from the release rates of DIC after correcting for the contribution of carbonate mineral dissolution. The experiments ran for several months until nitrate reducing activity could no longer be detected. In the reactors supplied with nitrate, 10–13% of the bulk sedimentary organic carbon (SOC) was mineralized by the end of the experiments. In reactors receiving no nitrate, only 3–9% of the initial SOC was mineralized. Organic matter utilization by nitrate reducers could be described as the simultaneous degradation of two carbon pools with different maximum oxidation rates and half-saturation constants. Even when nitrate was supplied in non-limiting concentrations about half of the carbon mineralization in the reactors was due to fermentative processes, rather than being coupled to nitrate respiration. Fermentation may thus be responsible for a large fraction of the DIC efflux from organic-rich, nearshore sediments.

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