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Experimental evidence for an effect of early-diagenetic interaction between labile and refractory marine sedimentary organic matter on nitrogen dynamics

Turnewitsch, R.; Domeyer, B.; Graf, G.. 2007 Experimental evidence for an effect of early-diagenetic interaction between labile and refractory marine sedimentary organic matter on nitrogen dynamics. Journal of Sea Research, 57 (4). 270-280. 10.1016/j.seares.2006.08.001

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Abstract/Summary

In most natural sedimentary systems labile and refractory organic material (OM) occur concomitantly. Little, however, is known on how different kinds of OM interact and how such interactions affect early diagenesis in sediments. In a simple sediment experiment, we investigated how interactions of OM substrates of different degradability affect benthic nitrogen (N) dynamics. Temporal evolution of a set of selected biogeochemical parameters was monitored in sandy sediment over 116 days in three experimental set-ups spiked with labile OM (tissue of Mytilus edulis), refractory OM (mostly aged Zostera marina and macroalgae), and a 1:1 mixture of labile and refractory OM. The initial amounts of particulate organic carbon (POC) were identical in the three set-ups. To check for non-linear interactions between labile and refractory OM, the evolution of the mixture system was compared with the evolution of the simple sum of the labile and refractory systems, divided by two. The sum system is the experimental control where labile and refractory OM are virtually combined but not allowed to interact. During the first 30 days there was evidence for net dissolved-inorganic-nitrogen (DIN) production followed by net DIN consumption. (Here ‘DIN’ is the sum of ammonium, nitrite and nitrate.) After 30 days a quasi steady state was reached. Non-linear interactions between the two types of OM were reflected by three main differences between the early-diagenetic evolutions of nitrogen dynamics of the mixture and sum (control) systems: (1) In the mixture system the phases of net DIN production and consumption commenced more rapidly and were more intense. (2) The mixture system was shifted towards a more oxidised state of DIN products [as indicated by increased (nitrite + nitrate)/(ammonium) ratios]. (3) There was some evidence that more OM, POC and particulate nitrogen were preserved in the mixture system. That is, in the mixture system more particulate OM was preserved while a higher proportion of the decomposed particulate N was converted into inorganic N. It can be concluded that during the first days and weeks of early diagenesis the magnitude and composition of the flux of decompositional dissolved N-compounds from sediments into the overlying water was influenced by non-linear interactions of OM substrates of different degradability. Given these experimental results it is likely that the relative spatial distributions of OM of differing degradability in sediments control the magnitude and composition of the return flux of dissolved N-bearing compounds from sediments into the overlying water column.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.seares.2006.08.001
ISSN: 1385-1101
Additional Keywords: Early diagenesis; Interaction; Labile organic matter;Nitrogen cycling; Organic-matter decomposition; Refractory organic matter
Date made live: 11 Dec 2007 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/149892

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