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The Benthic Exchange of O-2, N-2 and Dissolved Nutrients Using Small Core Incubations
Owens, MS; Cornwell, JC
The measurement of sediment-water exchange of gases and solutes in aquatic sediments provides data valuable for understanding the role of sediments in nutrient and gas cycles. After cores with intact sediment-water interfaces are collected, they are submerged in incubation tanks and kept under aerobic conditions at in situ temperatures. To initiate a time course of overlying water chemistry, cores are sealed without bubbles using a top cap with a suspended stirrer. Time courses of 4-7 sample points are used to determine the rate of sediment water exchange. Artificial illumination simulates day-time conditions for shallow photosynthetic sediments, and in conjunction with dark incubations can provide net exchanges on a daily basis. The net measurement of N-2 is made possible by sampling a time course of dissolved gas concentrations, with high precision mass spectrometric analysis of N-2:Ar ratios providing a means to measure N-2 concentrations. We have successfully applied this approach to lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, wetlands and storm water ponds, and with care, this approach provides valuable information on biogeochemical balances in aquatic ecosystems.
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