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Seasonal Cycling of Fe in Saltmarsh Sediments

Joel E. Kostka and George W. Luther III
Biogeochemistry
Vol. 29, No. 2 (May, 1995), pp. 159-181
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1469123
Page Count: 23
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Seasonal Cycling of Fe in Saltmarsh Sediments
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Abstract

This study combines an analysis of porewater chemistry with new, solid phase wet chemical extractions to examine the seasonal cycling of Fe in vegetated and unvegetated (cyanobacterial mat) saltmarsh sediments. Saltmarsh sediments are shown to contain more solid phase reactive Fe than other marine sediments studied so far. From the partitioning and speciation of solid Fe, and solid/soluble reduced S analysis in 10 sediment cores, we have observed that a majority of solid Fe in these sediments is cycled rapidly and completely between oxidized reactive Fe and reduced Fe as pyrite. Vegetated porewaters showed a lower pH and much higher Fe(II) concentrations on average than unvegetated porewaters in the top 10 cm, whereas sulfate, alkalinity, and sulfide concentrations were similar in the two environments. The amorphous Fe(III) oxide fraction showed a high negative correlation to solid and soluble reduced S (r2=-0.86 and -0.71, respectively) in surface vegetated sediments whereas the crystalline Fe(III) oxide fraction showed a high negative correlation (r2=-0.96) to sulfide only at depth. Though reactive Fe was observed in unvegetated sediments, no seasonal trend was apparent and the speciation of solid Fe revealed that most of it was reduced. Solid phase and porewater chemistry support the dominant role of the biota (Spartina alterniflora and bacteria) in controlling the reactivity of Fe and suggest that the current definition of solid phase, reactive Fe should be expanded to include crystalline Fe(III) minerals which are available for pyrite formation in saltmarsh sediments. In support of previous saltmarsh studies, we present evidence that the redox cycle of solid Fe is controlled by sulfate reduction and sediment oxidation which respond to both annual cycles (light, temperature) and to short-term, episodic effects such as weather and tides.

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