Isotopic fingerprints of benthic nitrogen cycling in the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone

Dale, Andrew W., Bourbonnais, A., Altabet, M., Wallmann, Klaus and Sommer, Stefan (2019) Isotopic fingerprints of benthic nitrogen cycling in the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 245 . pp. 406-425. DOI 10.1016/j.gca.2018.10.025.

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Abstract

Stable isotopes (15,14N, 18,16O) of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (N) were measured in sediment porewaters and benthic flux chambers across the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) from 74 to 1000 m water depth. Sediments at all locations were net consumers of bottom water NO3−. In waters shallower than 400 m, this sink was largely attributed to dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) by filamentous nitrate-storing bacteria (Marithioploca and Beggiatoa) and to denitrification by foraminifera. The apparent N isotope effect of benthic NO3− loss (15εapp) was 7.4 ± 0.7‰ at microbial mat sites and 2.5 ± 0.9‰ at the lower fringe of the OMZ (400 m) where foraminifera were abundant. The OMZ sediments were a source of 15N-enriched NO2− (28.9 to 65.5‰) and NH4+ (19.4–20.5‰) to the bottom water. Model simulations generally support a previous hypothesis attributing the 15NH4+ enrichment to a coupling between DNRA and anammox (termed DAX) using biologically-stored NO3− from Marithioploca and NH4+ from the porewater. The model predicts that 40% of NO3− that is actively transported into the sediment by Marithioploca is reduced to N2 by this pathway. DAX enhances N2 fluxes by a factor of 2–3 and accounts for 70% of fixed N loss to N2. Moreover, because most of the ambient porewater NH4+ is generated by DNRA, up to two-thirds of biologically-transported NO3− could end up being lost to N2. This challenges the premise that Marithioploca-dominated sediments tend to conserve fixed N. By limiting the flux of 15NH4+ back to the ocean, DAX also tends to decrease benthic N fractionation. Tracking the fate of NH4+ once it leaves the sediment is critical for understanding how the benthos contributes to N isotope signals in the water column.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Anaerobic ammonium oxidation, Marine-sediments, Nitrate reduction, DNRA, Benthic nitrogen cycle, Sulfur bacteria, Peru, isotope, Marithioploca, model, sediment
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754 > B6
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > SFB 754 > B5
OceanRep > SFB 754 > B1
OceanRep > SFB 754
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.gca.2018.10.025
ISSN: 0016-7037
Projects: SFB754
Expeditions/Models:
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2018 08:33
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2018 12:23
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/44808

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