Free Content Solute-specific pore water irrigation: Implications for chemical cycling in early diagenesis

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In one-dimensional (1D) early diagenetic models, bioirrigation is typically represented by a nonlocal mass transfer or bioirrigation coefficient, α. Usually, all pore water species are assigned the same α. Here, we show that this assumption can lead to significant errors in estimates of bioirrigation intensities. Using a simplified early diagenetic reaction network, we compute the 3D concentration fields of major pore water species around a vertical burrow, as well as the solute fluxes across the burrow wall. From these results, corresponding 1D vertical α profiles are derived. The α profiles show pronounced differences from one solute to another. Dissolved O2 systematically exhibits the highest α values, while fast oxygenation kinetics near the burrow wall result in near-zero α values for aqueous Fe2+. For nitrate, use of a species-averaged α profile may even lead to an erroneous prediction of the direction of the irrigation flux across the water-sediment interface. The large differences in α profiles reflect the variable effects of biogeochemical processes on pore water concentration fields of reactive solutes near the burrow wall. Even for inert solutes, however, determination of α can be ambiguous. Transient simulations mimicking the intrusion into the sediment of an inert tracer during an incubation experiment yield apparent mixing intensities that depend on the incubation time.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2005

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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