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MEPS 164:135-146 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/meps164135

Biogeochemical aspects of bottom anoxia in a Mediterranean lagoon (Thau, France)

Philippe Souchu1,*, Anne Gasc1,**, Yves Collos2, André Vaquer2, Henri Tournier1, Bertrand Bibent2, Jean-Marc Deslous-Paoli1

1Laboratoire Ecologie, Station IFREMER, 1 rue Jean Vilar, F-34200 Sète, France 2Laboratoire d'Hydrobiologie (UMR 5556 CNRS), Université de Montpellier CC093, F-34095 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
**Present address: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149-1098, USA

Physical and chemical characteristics (temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen), nutrients [dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) and silicate], dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) and phosphorus and particulate matter [particulate organic carbon (POC) and nitrogen (PON) and chlorophyll a] were measured at a station located in the deepest part of the Thau lagoon (8.5 m), France, during a 10 d period of bottom anoxia in summer 1994. The upper 8 cm of sediment were also analyzed for ammonium (NH4+) and SRP concentrations in the porewater. The study period was characterized by mean wind speed under 4 m s-1 which induced an increase of surface temperature from 18 to 29°C with the formation of a thermocline. The correlation (p < 10-4) between the wind speed averaged over the previous day and the difference between bottom and surface temperatures showed that the wind constituted the main vector of vertical mixing. The lack of wind led to dissolved oxygen depletion in the bottom 2 m and to a strong porosity increase in the upper 10 cm of sediment (80 to >95%). Anoxic conditions increased NH4+ and SRP concentrations in porewater from 231 ± 89 to 1305 ± 305 (± SD) µM and from 6.6 ± 0.8 to 108 ± 43 µM respectively. The potential increase of NH4+ concentrations in porewater estimated from the mineralization of the microphytobenthos explained 30% of the measured increase in the upper 8 cm of porewater. The study period was characterized by an increase in NH4+, SRP and dissolved Si concentrations in the bottom water column (maxima respectively 24.2, 4.9 and 57 µM). Linear regressions between nutrient concentrations in the water column and temperature revealed a strong enhancement of bottom fluxes during anoxia. Nitrate + nitrite (NO3- + NO2-) were absent in anoxic waters and remained below 0.5 µM in oxic waters. Monthly concentrations of SRP in the water column of the Thau lagoon from 1970 to 1994 revealed anoxia events by summer peak values corresponding to strong bottom anoxia. Nevertheless, the general trend was a decrease due to the gradual control of eutrophication which should lead to the disappearance of bottom anoxia within the next decade. A fraction of the nutrients of benthic origin was transformed into planktonic particulate matter via primary production which increased the concentrations of chl a from about 1 to 15 µg l-1. Concentrations of DON and PON in the water column were significantly correlated, suggesting that DON compounds were released by the pelagic food web but not directly by the sediment. The increase of total nitrogen (DIN + DON + PON), considering the water column as a closed box during 10 d of winds under 5 m s-1, was estimated at 1.7 µmol N l-1 d-1 and would correspond to a benthic flux of 600 µmol N m-2 h-1 for 10 d.

Anoxia · Nitrogen · Phosphorus · Eutrophication · Thau lagoon · Mediterranean Sea

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