Determination of Pore-Water Dissolved Organic Carbon Fluxes from Mexican Margin Sediments

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  • Determination of Pore-Water Dissolved Organic Carbon Fluxes from Mexican MarginSedimentsAuthor(s): Brook L. Holcombe, Richard G. Keil and Allan H. DevolSource: Limnology and Oceanography, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Mar., 2001), pp. 298-308Published by: American Society of Limnology and OceanographyStable URL: .Accessed: 14/06/2014 15:15

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  • Lininiol. Oceanogr., 46(2), 2001, 298-308 (? 2001, by the American Society of Li-niiology and Oceanography, Inc.

    Determination of pore-water dissolved organic carbon fluxes from Mexican margin sediments

    Brook L. Holcombe, Richard G. Keil, and Allan H. Devol University of Washington, School of Oceanography, Box 357940, Seattle, Washington 98195

    Abstract Sediment dissolved organic carbon (DOC) fluxes were determined in the oxygen minimum zone along the north-

    western Mexican margin using five different methods: in situ benthic chambers, on-deck incubations, slicing, dialysis sampling (peepers), and sipping. For each of the five methods, replicates (n = 6-12) were made. Directly determined fluxes (whole-core incubations and benthic chambers) and calculated fluxes (sliced and dialysis-sampled cores) agree well (0.41 ? 0.09, 0.36 ? 0.04 0.25 + 0.05, and 0.25 ? 0.05 mmol C m-2 d-', respectively). On the Mexican margin, the DOC flux was 8% of the sedimentary carbon input, suggesting that it is a significant component to the local carbon budget. Extrapolations of this flux to the total global margin suggest that shelf and slope sediments contribute 96 Tg C yr-'. The residence time of oceanic DOC based on this flux is consistent with measurements of the deep-water DO'4C age. Profiles were also constructed from sip-isolated pore waters and yield consistently lower DOC profile gradients and DOC fluxes (0.06 ? 0.02 mmol C m-2 d-'). We propose that the consistently observed discrepancy between sip-isolated profiles and other isolation techniques is a result of sampling different reservoirs of pore water present in the heterogeneous sediment matrix.

    Oceanic nutrient budgets are influenced by the tight cou- pling between benthic and overlying water processes. Ex- amples include relationships between benthic biomass growth and production and the resulting oxygen demand (Rowe et al. 1991; Sayles et al. 1994), ammonium excretion (Henrickson et al. 1993), and particle input. The composi- tions of seawater solutes are, therefore, greatly influenced by sedimentary degradation and dissolution (Martin et al. 1991).

    This link between benthic and water column processes can also be extended to the cycling of organic matter. Sediment pore-water DOC (pwDOC) concentrations are elevated with respect to the overlying water, supporting a gradient-driven flux of DOC out of the sediments into the wvater column (Burdige et al. 1992; Martin and McCorkle 1993). Studies of carbon cycling in sediments have shown that the release of DOC to the water column is potentially large enough to support the entire oceanic DOC pool and may be of equal magnitude to both the preservation of particulate organic carbon (POC) and the sedimentary oxidation of organic mat- ter to dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (Burdige et al. 1992).

    The large oceanic DOC pool (700 X 1015 g C) cycles through the ocean slowly with a mean 14C age of 4,000- 6,000 yr and has at least four possible sources (Fig. 1). Riv- ers deliver a significant amount of DOC to the ocean (Mey- beck 1982), but the molecular and isotopic composition of river-born DOC is not consistent with the biochemical make- up of the oceanic pool (Hedges et al. 1992). Upper water

    ' Corresponding author (holcombe @ Acknowledgments

    We thank Thorarnin Arnarson, Gerard Van der Jagt, Yves Geli- nas, and Cindy Louis for analytical support; the UW MOG reading group for constructive criticism; the captain and crew of the RIV New Horizon for their patience; and M. Kiowa for poignant re- marks. This work was supported by NSF Grant OCE 9618265 and is UW School of Oceanography contribution number 2222.

    column processes are also thought to contribute significantly to the cycling of refractory DOC in the ocean. However, studies that focus on DOC cycling in the upper water column show that most of this DOC cycles on time frames shorter than 1 yr (Carlson et al. 1994), and few studies have ex- amined the production of refractory DOC in the water col- urn (Keil and Kirchman 1992; McCarthy et al. 1997). Deg- radation of sinking particles is a third contributor of DOC to the water column, but the magnitude of this flux is un- known and likely to be small (Peterson et al. 1993). Finally, once particles reach the sediment they undergo further dia- genesis and these sedimentary processes release some DOC back to the water column (Fig. 1). The flux of DOC from sediments to the water column is poorly constrained. Pre- vious estimates of the DOC flux are variable and highly dependent on the method used (e.g., Carignan 1984; Martin and McCorkle 1993). In most studies, DOC flux has been determined from pore-water gradients (Burdige et al. 1992), and there are very few published attempts to directly mea- sure the flux in situ (Alperin et al. 1999; Burdige et al. 1999). One problem in comparisons of these two determinations is the presence of organisms and resulting bioturbation. The objective of this study was to determine the in situ flux of DOC from sediments to the overlying water and to compare this directly measured flux with fluxes calculated from pore- water gradients. The absence of macro- and meiofauna along the Mexican margin eliminated the concern that stressed or- ganisms might release DOC or irrigate the sediments.

    Materials and methods

    Study site Samples were collected during a 1999 cruise on the RN New Horizon along the continental margin of northwestern Mexico. Oxygen-deficient waters ([02] < 5 ,gM) in the eastern tropical North Pacific impinge upon the sediments between the shelf and slope (100-1,000 m) (Ga- neshram and Pedersen 1998). A general description of the


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  • Pore-water DOC fluxes 299


    (700 x1014 gc)

    | t DOC

    Fig. 1. Schematic representation of sources that may fuel the oceanic DOC pool (700 X 1014 g C). Four potential sources include (1) rivers, (2) primary production, (3) degradation of sinking par- ticles, and (4) flux of DOC from the sediments to the overlying water.

    regional oceanography is presented in Roden (1964). Our sampling location is roughly due west of Mazatlan, Mexico (22?42.81'N; 106?8.25'W) at a water depth of -350 m. Par- ticulate organic carbon content in sediments range from 5- 12% (wt) (Hartnett 1998).

    Benthic tripod Two benthic tripods (Devol 1987) were employed to determine the in situ flux of DOC from the sediments to the overlying water (Fig. 2a). Direct measure- ments of DOC diffusion into the overlying water are sensi- tive to contamination from instrumentation (Burdige et al. 1999) and to the release of DOC from stressed organisms (e.g., Martin and McCorkle 1993) within an incubation chamber. Each tripod had two chambers, and the chambers were specifically modified to collect very clean DOC sam- ples by removing all plastic and rubber parts that would come into contact with sample water and replacing them with titanium, stainless steel, or Teflon. Prior to deploy- ments, all benthic tripod parts that were to come into contact with the sampled water were cleaned with methanol, allowed to dry, and then rinsed five times with ultrafiltered, ultravi- olet (UV)-oxidized water (Milli-Q water). All Teflon tubing was soaked in 6 N HCI then flushed with approximately 1 L of Milli-Q water. Teflon bars inside of the chambers were rotated at 40 rpm in order to maintain realistic benthic

    boundary conditions inside the chambers. Tripods were placed on the ocean floor and after 2 h, the chambers were inserted into the sediments. Fifteen minutes later, the cham- ber lids were closed and 4 ml of 5 M LiCl tracer was injected into the chamber to serve as a volume calibrator (Devol 1987). The water in the chamber was allowed to equilibrate, and after another 15 min, the initial sample of the overlying water was collected. Up to four additional samples were tak- en over the 4-d deployment. Samples were drawn into, and stored within, Teflon tubing (5 ml) using a spring-loaded 60- ml syringe. After recovery of the tripod, DOC samples were expelled from the Teflon tubing into combusted glass vials and immediately analyzed for the DOC concentration.

    DOC profiles/coring details Sediments were collected using the Model II-XT


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