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Vertical distribution of denitrification in an estuarine sediment: Integrating sediment flowthrough reactor experiments and microprofiling via reactive transport modeling

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Wieringa,  E. B. A.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Laverman, A. M., Meile, C., Van Cappellen, P., & Wieringa, E. B. A. (2007). Vertical distribution of denitrification in an estuarine sediment: Integrating sediment flowthrough reactor experiments and microprofiling via reactive transport modeling. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73(1), 40-47.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-CEB6-A
Abstract
Denitrifying activity in a sediment from the freshwater part of a polluted estuary in northwest Europe was quantified using two independent approaches. High-resolution N2O microprofiles were recorded in sediment cores to which acetylene was added to the overlying water and injected laterally into the sediment. The vertical distribution of the rate of denitrification supported by nitrate uptake from the overlying water was then derived from the time series N2O concentration profiles. The rates obtained for the core incubations were compared to the rates predicted by a forward reactive transport model, which included rate expression for denitrification calibrated with potential rate measurements obtained in flowthrough reactors containing undisturbed, 1-cm-thick sediment slices. The two approaches yielded comparable rate profiles, with a near-surface, 2- to 3-mm narrow zone of denitrification and maximum in situ rates on the order of 200 to 300 nmol cm−3 h−1. The maximum in situ rates were about twofold lower than the maximum potential rate for the 0- to 1-cm depth interval of the sediment, indicating that in situ denitrification was nitrate limited. The experimentally and model-derived rates of denitrification implied that there was nitrate uptake by the sediment at a rate that was on the order of 50 (± 10) nmol cm−2 h−1, which agreed well with direct nitrate flux measurements for core incubations. Reactive transport model calculations showed that benthic uptake of nitrate at the site is particularly sensitive to the nitrate concentration in the overlying water and the maximum potential rate of denitrification in the sediment.