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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 23;8(4):e62386. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062386. Print 2013.

Coupled dynamics of iron and phosphorus in sediments of an oligotrophic coastal basin and the impact of anaerobic oxidation of methane.

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Department of Earth Sciences-Geochemistry, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Studies of phosphorus (P) dynamics in surface sediments of lakes and coastal seas typically emphasize the role of coupled iron (Fe), sulfur (S) and P cycling for sediment P burial and release. Here, we show that anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) also may impact sediment P cycling in such systems. Using porewater and sediment profiles for sites in an oligotrophic coastal basin (Bothnian Sea), we provide evidence for the formation of Fe-bound P (possibly vivianite; Fe3(PO4)2(·)8H2O) below the zone of AOM with sulfate. Here, dissolved Fe(2+) released from oxides is no longer scavenged by sulfide and high concentrations of both dissolved Fe(2+) (>1 mM) and PO4 in the porewater allow supersaturation with respect to vivianite to be reached. Besides formation of Fe(II)-P, preservation of Fe-oxide bound P likely also contributes to permanent burial of P in Bothnian Sea sediments. Preliminary budget calculations suggest that the burial of Fe-bound P allows these sediments to act as a major sink for P from the adjacent eutrophic Baltic Proper.

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