Particle bioturbation in Massachusetts Bay: Preliminary results using a new deliberate tracer technique
Abstract:To better understand temporal and particle size-dependent bioturbation processes, we conducted a study of sediment mixing in Massachusetts Bay using a newly developed deliberate tracer technique. Sediments from a 32-m, fine-grained site were collected and the 38–62 (“silt”) and 63–125 (“sand”) μm fractions isolated. These particle-size fractions were labeled with two different noble metals (Au: silt & Ag: sand) using a thermal diffusion technique. Mixtures of the tracers were spread onto the seafloor in April and July 1992 by divers and were tube-cored (3 replicates) ˜ 80 d later in each case. Vertical profiles of the tracers were measured at μg/g (Ag) and ng/g (Au) levels by instrumental neutron activation analysis. During the spring experiment, Au (silt) was mixed to depths > 15 cm and displayed multiple subsurface maxima, whereas Ag (sand) was confined to the upper 5 cm of the bed and showed a near monotonic decrease in concentration with depth. In the fall experiment, the tracers displayed more congruent down-core profiles consisting of near-surface maxima and several subsurface peaks. Two nonlocal bioturbation modes are suggested by the tracer data: reverse conveyor-belt transport and head-down deposit feeding or excavation. A particle caching strategy by an unidentified macrofaunal species is postulated to explain the subsurface peaks, but remains conjectural without better species-level natural history information regarding solid-phase bioturbation.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 1994
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