Spatial and seasonal variability of sediment oxygen consumption and nutrient fluxes at the sediment water interface in a sub-tropical lagoon (New Caledonia).

Research paper by C C Grenz, L L Denis, O O Pringault, R R Fichez

Indexed on: 20 Jul '10Published on: 20 Jul '10Published in: Marine Pollution Bulletin


In order to quantify the spatial and seasonal variations of sediment oxygen consumption and nutrient fluxes, we performed a spatial survey in the south west lagoon of New Caledonia during the two major seasons (dry and wet) based on a network of 11 sampling stations. Stations were selected along two barrier reef to land transects representing most types of sediments encountered in the lagoon. Fluxes were measured using ex-situ sediment incubations and compared to sediment characteristics. Sediment oxygen consumption (SOC) varied between 500 and 2000 micromol m(-2)h(-1), depending on season and stations. Nutrient effluxes from sediment were highly variable with highest fluxes measured in muddy sediments near the coast. Inter-sample variability was as high as seasonal differences so that no seasonally driven temperature effect could be observed on benthic nutrient fluxes in our temperature range. Nutrient fluxes, generally directed from the sediment to the water column, varied between -5.0 and 70.0 micromol m(-2)h(-1) for ammonia and between -2.5 and+12.5 micromol m(-2)h(-1) for PO(4) and NO(2+3). SOC and nutrient fluxes were compared to pelagic primary production rates in order to highlight the tight coupling existing between the benthic and pelagic compartments in this shallow tropical lagoon. Under specific occasions of low pelagic productivity, oxygen sediment consumption and related carbon and nutrient fluxes could balance nearly all net primary production in the lagoon. These biogeochemical estimates point to the functional importance of sediment biogeochemistry in the lagoon of New Caledonia.