Oxygen and Dissolved Organic Carbon Dynamics in Coastal Permeable Sediments
Chipman, Lindsay (author)
Huettel, Markus (professor directing dissertation)
Cooper, William (university representative)
Berg, Peter (committee member)
Dewar, William (committee member)
Kostka, Joel (committee member)
MacDonald, Ian (committee member)
Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (degree granting department)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
A large fraction of the continental shelf is covered by permeable sediments that are flushed by wave, wind, and tide generated bottom currents. Elevated dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations in coastal zones, a diverse and abundant sediment microbial community, and advective filtration of seawater through the surface layers of permeable sediments, make these environments important zones for the cycling of organic matter. This research investigates the role of permeable sediments in the dynamics of two central components of the carbon cycle: DOC and oxygen. In Chapter 2, published in Limnology & Oceanography, I investigate decomposition rates and compositional changes of DOC when filtered through permeable sediments contained in laboratory column reactors. Substantial amounts of DOC were mineralized in the sediments and could be linked to incorporation by aerobic and anaerobic microbes. In DOC pore-water profiles measured at two study sites with permeable sediment, we observed a concave shape of the profiles in the upper 10 cm of permeable sediment resulting from transport of DOC with advective pore water flows into the sand, and DOC decomposition in the subsurface layers. We found that the flushed sand layer between the water column and deeper anoxic sediment layers acts as an effective DOC filter, with subsurface horizontal pore-water flows promoting decomposition of DOC, suggesting that permeable sediments play a key role in the cycling of organic matter. In Chapter 3, submitted to Continental Shelf Research, I use the findings of Chapter 2 for the interpretation of field time series data of DOC, DIC, and TN concentrations in the water column and coastal sediment pore waters. We use these time series to investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of dissolved organic matter and how benthic pelagic coupling influences DOC concentrations in the permeable sediments. Our results reveal that DOC in the upper layer (0-12 cm) of the shallow sands is controlled by benthic-pelagic coupling facilitated by advective pore water filtration modulated by the regional wave climate. For the quantification of oxygen fluxes in the permeable coastal sands resulting from the benthic organic matter production and consumption and the current-induced sediment flushing, I deployed the eddy correlation technique. In order to make this technique more suitable for our shallow coastal zone with relatively rough hydrodynamic conditions (as compared to deeper marine environments), we adapted existing eddy correlation instruments for use with more durable and repairable oxygen optodes. This development is described in detail in Chapter 4 that has been submitted for publication in Limnology and Oceanography Methods. Our results show that optodes have a comparable response time to electrodes, produce similar fluxes in field deployments, and are a viable alternative for use with the eddy correlation measurement in coastal environments with strong currents and wave action. These hydrodynamic conditions are an important factor controlling production and decomposition processes at the sediment-water interface and within the sediment because they can largely control the availability of DOC and oxygen to microbial communities in the sediments. In Chapter 5, which is presently is being prepared for submission to Marine Ecology - Progress Series, we investigate the relationship between flow, wave height, DOC concentration, temperature, light, and the benthic oxygen fluxes. The results reveal a large range of production and consumption rates in the permeable coastal sediments with distinct seasonal changes. The latter are caused by the availability of degradable organic matter and the magnitude of the pore water flushing process that carries these organic substrates and oxygen into the permeable coastal sands. We conclude that the highly degradable DOC produced by pelagic and benthic primary producers enhances water column - sediment biogeochemical coupling in the coastal zone thereby increasing the contribution of the sediment surface layer in the cycling of carbon and nutrients.
Benthic flux, Carbon degradation, DOC, Oxygen, Permeable sediment
November 3, 2011.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Markus Huettel, Professor Directing Dissertation; William Cooper, University Representative; Peter Berg, Committee Member; William Dewar, Committee Member; Joel Kostka, Committee Member; Ian MacDonald, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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