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Benthic Exchange of Nutrients in Galveston Bay, Texas

Kent W. Warnken, Gary A. Gill, Peter H. Santschi and Lawrence L. Griffin
Estuaries
Vol. 23, No. 5 (Oct., 2000), pp. 647-661
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1352891
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Benthic Exchange of Nutrients in Galveston Bay, Texas
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Abstract

Nutrient regeneration rates were determined at three sites increasing in distance from the Trinity River, the main freshwater input source, to Galveston Bay, Texas, from 1994 through 1996. Diffusive fluxes generally agreed in direction with directly measured benthic fluxes but underestimated the exchange of nutrients across the sediment-water interface. While the fluxes of ammonium and phosphate were directed from the sediments into the overlying waters, the fluxes of silicate and chloride changed in both magnitude and direction in response to changing Trinity River flow conditions. Oxygen fluxes showed benthic production during both summer 1995 and winter 1996, while light-dark deployments showed production-consumption, respectively. Benthic inputs of nutrients were higher at either the middle or outer Trinity Bay regions, most likely due to a higher quality and quantity of the autochthonous organic matter deposited. This feature is consistent with and gives evidence for previously observed non-conservative mixing behaviors reported for nutrients in this region of Galveston Bay. Calculated turnover times, between 7 to 135 d for phosphate, 4 to 56 d for silicate, and 0.3 to 10 d for ammonium were significantly shorter than the average Trinity Bay water residence time of 1.5 yr for the period September 1995 through October 1996. During periods of decreased Trinity River flow and increased residence times, benthic inputs of ammonium and phosphate were 1 to 2 orders of magnitude greater than Trinity River inputs and were the dominant input source of these nutrients to Trinity Bay. The sediments, a sink for silicate when overlying water column concentrations of silicate were elevated, became a source of silicate to the overlying waters of Trinity Bay under reduced flow, high salinity conditions.

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