The Influence of Sulfides on Soluble Organic-Fe(III) in Anoxic Sediment Porewaters

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Article - Merrimack Access Only

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Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation

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Abstract/ Summary

Solid and colloidal iron oxides are commonly involved in early diagenesis. More readily available soluble Fe(III) should accelerate the cycling of iron (Fe) and sulfur (S) in sediments. Experiments with synthetic solutions (Taillefert et al. 2000) showed that soluble Fe(III) (i.e.,diameter) reacts at a mercury voltammetric electrode at circumneutral pH if it is complexed by an organic ligand. The reactivity of soluble organic-Fe(III) with sulfide is greatly increased compared to its solid equivalent (e.g., amorphous hydrous iron oxides or goethite). We report here data from two different creeks of the Hackensack Meadowlands District (New Jersey) collected with solid state Au/Hg voltammetric microelectrodes and other conventional techniques, which confirm the existence of soluble organic-Fe(III) in sediments and its interaction with sulfide. Chemical profiles in these two anoxic sediments show the interaction between iron and sulfur during early diagenesis. Soluble organic-Fe(III) and Fe(II) are dominant in a creek where sulfide is negligible. This dominance suggests that the reductive dissolution of iron oxides goes through the dissolution of solid Fe(III), then reduction to Fe(II), or that soluble organic-Fe(III) is formed by chemical or microbial oxidation of organic-Fe(II) complexes. In a creek sediment where sulfide occurs in significant concentration, the reductive dissolution of Fe(III) is followed by formation of FeS(aq), which further precipitates. Dissolved sulfide may influence the fate of soluble organic-Fe(III), but the pH may be the key variable behind this process. The high reactivity of soluble organic-Fe(III) and its mobility may result in the shifting of local reactions, at depths where other electron acceptors are used. These data also suggest that estuarine and coastal sediments may not always be at steady state.