Dual radiotracer measurement of zoobenthos-mediated solute and particle transport in freshwater sediments

TitleDual radiotracer measurement of zoobenthos-mediated solute and particle transport in freshwater sediments
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1984
AuthorsKrezoski JR, Robbins JA, White DS
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research

Gamma spectroscopy methods have been applied to determine the effects of Stylodrilus heringianus and Pontoporeia hoyi, two freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates, on the reworking of sediments and the transfer of solutes across the sediment-water interface. Natural lake sediments (sieved to remove organisms) and overlying water were contained in temperature-regulated rectangular plastic cells. A submillimeter layer of sediment solids labeled with 137 Cs was deposited on the sediment interface while overlaying water was spiked with 22Na. After addition of Stylodrilus (oligochaete worms) and Pontoporeia (crustacean amphipods) to these microcosms, the vertical distributions of 137Cs (a tracer of particle transport) and 22Na (a tracer of solute transport) were determined at daily to weekly intervals for 3 months by scanning the length of the cells with a well-collimated NaI detector. In cells with Stylodrilus, the 137Cs layer moved downward at a rate that decreased exponentially with time. The displacement of the layer is the result of the conveyor-belt feeding mode of this organism. The rate of marked layer burial is consistent with that of other freshwater annelids (0.18 x 10-5 cm /d/individual/m2; 11.6C). The exponential decrease in burial rate is ascribed to uniformly distributed feeding of Stylodrilus within the feeding zone of 4.4 cm. In cells with Pontoporeia, 137Cs activity was smeared downward in time owing to eddy diffusive mixing of sediments over a small range (1-2 cm). In cells without worms, the veneer of Cs active material remained at the interface while the penetration of 22Na into sediments was consistent with diffusion in free solution with small corrections for sediment porosity and sorption (K D = 0.17). The effective diffusion coefficient D e for 22Na in this cell (8.2 x 10-6 cm2/s) was essentially the same as that for a cell that had been inhabited by worms for 3 weeks and then poisoned with formalin just before addition of 22Na. Thus the presence of biogenically reworked sediments (with pelletized materials and remnant burrow structures) did not affect solute transport. In cells with live Stylodrilus, penetration of 22Na within the feeding zone was considerably more rapid, implying an apparent D e twice as high as in cells without worms. Inferences based on the particle reworking results were used to develop an illustrative transport model that includes advective as well as diffusive terms. Advective transport arises from the incorporation of 22Na into pore fluids moved downward as a result of conveyor-belt feeding. The model indicates that within the feeding zone, solute transport is dominated by advection and that the apparent enhancement of D e in pure diffusion models is really the result of solute flow induced by particle reworking. In cells with Pontoporeia, D e is approximately twice that in control cells. In these cells, 22Na profiles may be treated theoretically without advection.