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Functioning of intertidal flats inferred from temporal and spatial dynamics of O2, H2S and pH in their surface sediment

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Jansen,  S.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Walpersdorf,  E.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Werner,  U.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Billerbeck,  M.
HGF MPG Joint Research Group for Deep Sea Ecology & Technology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Böttcher,  M. E.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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de Beer,  D.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Jansen, S., Walpersdorf, E., Werner, U., Billerbeck, M., Böttcher, M. E., & de Beer, D. (2009). Functioning of intertidal flats inferred from temporal and spatial dynamics of O2, H2S and pH in their surface sediment. Ocean dynamics, 59(2 Sp. Iss. Sp. Iss. SI), 317-332.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-CC54-B
Abstract
In this article, we describe the dynamics of pH, O2 and H2S in the top 5–10 cm of an intertidal flat consisting of permeable sand. These dynamics were measured at the low water line and higher up the flat and during several seasons. Together with pore water nutrient data, the dynamics confirm that two types of transport act as driving forces for the cycling of elements (Billerbeck et al. 2006b): Fast surface dynamics of pore water chemistry occur only during inundation. Thus, they must be driven by hydraulics (tidal and wave action) and are highly dependent on weather conditions. This was demonstrated clearly by quick variation in oxygen penetration depth: Seeps are active at low tide only, indicating that the pore water flow in them is driven by a pressure head developing at low tide. The seeps are fed by slow transport of pore water over long distances in the deeper sediment. In the seeps, high concentrations of degradation products such as nutrients and sulphide were found, showing them to be the outlets of deep-seated degradation processes. The degradation products appear toxic for bioturbating/bioirrigating organisms, as a consequence of which, these were absent in the wider seep areas. These two mechanisms driving advection determine oxygen dynamics in these flats, whereas bioirrigation plays a minor role. The deep circulation causes a characteristic distribution of strongly reduced pore water near the low water line and rather more oxidised sediments in the centre of the flats. The two combined transport phenomena determine the fluxes of solutes and gases from the sediment to the surface water and in this way create specific niches for various types of microorganisms.