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Free Content Modeling sensitivity of biodiffusion coefficient to seasonal bioturbation

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Biodiffusion coefficient is the predominant parameter used to constrain biological activity in marine sediments. Bioturbation characterization is important because of the dominant role it plays on the flux determination through the sediment-water interface. Biological mixing is quantified through models of radionuclides diagenesis by both a biodiffusion coefficient (Db) and a mixed depth (L) under the basic steady-state assumption. Based on a new global compilation of radionuclide data in marine sediments and on previously published modeling results, we show that short-live radionuclides are perfectly devoted to quantify biological mixing for sediments associated with λL2/Db lower than 125, λ representing the decay constant of the radionuclide. 75 % of the234Th-derived Db, and 79 % of the 7Be-derived Db are concerned by this result. However, as transient regimes prevail within marine sediments, especially at a seasonal time scale and within the coastal and shelf environment, it is necessary to model their impacts on Db calculations. A transient model of radionuclide decay and transport is therefore used to perform extensive sensitivity tests of Db calculations in respect to seasonal mixing. Numerical tests of seasonal sensitivity indicate that 234Th and 7Be are the most sensitive tracers to seasonal biological mixing: the steady-state assumption remains valid and applicable for most of natural marine environments. However, systematic tests reveal that incorrect seasonal sensitivity of 234Th is detected for marine environments with λL2/Db lower than 10 and greater than 1000. In these cases, the apparent seasonal variations of the biological activity need to be corrected. The main parameter in selecting the appropriate radionuclide for field analyses is the dimensionless pulse, which defines the relative importance of decay time scale relative to the seasonal time scale. This pulse controls the relative extension of the domain of satisfactory sensitivity. Consequently, long-lived radionuclides (210Pb and 228Th) are not appropriate for predicting seasonal mixing, except for specific environments which display an unexpected sensitivity to seasonal mixing. These marine environments are characterized by a moderate biological mixing and a deep mixed-layer.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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