The fate of terrestrial organic matter in two Scottish sea lochs

P. S. Loh, A. D. Reeves, S. M. Harvey, J. Overnell, A. E. J. Miller

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Sea lochs are zones of rapid organic matter (OM) turnover. Most of this OM is of allochthonous origin, being introduced into the lochs via freshwater input. In this study the behaviour of terrestrially derived OM was elucidated using a combination of parameters which indicate OM diagenesis in the near surface sediments from two Scottish sea lochs, Loch Creran and Loch Etive. Alkaline CuO oxidation was used to determine lignin phenols which serve as biomarkers for terrestrial OM in sediments. Stable carbon isotope, total carbon and nitrogen and total OM (including the labile and refractory fractions) compositions were also determined. Lignin materials in the lochs were generally highly degraded and undergo little degradation further seaward. The vanillic acid to vanillin ratio, (Ad/Al)v in the lochs ranged from 0.52 to 2.69. However, there was a fraction of relatively fresh, land-derived OM, still undergoing degradation adding to the carbon cycling in the lochs, as indicated by the Rp values (ratio of refractory to total OM) and OC/N ratios in the surface sediments. The hydrological and hydrodynamic regimes in Loch Creran result in several phenomena such as the transportation of terrestrial debris via hydrodynamic sorting processes and the promotion of surface sediment diagenesis by bioturbation. Frequent water renewal results in better water circulation and oxygenation which facilitate OM decomposition. In Loch Etive the less frequent renewal gives rise to a more constant OM diagenesis along the loch.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)566-579
    Number of pages14
    JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
    Volume76
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Fingerprint

    organic matter
    lakes
    diagenesis
    sediments
    sediment
    lignin
    hydrodynamics
    degradation
    carbon
    sea
    freshwater input
    oxygenation
    vanillic acid
    bioturbation
    vanillin
    sorting
    carbon isotope
    biomarker
    phenol
    phenols

    Keywords

    • Lignin
    • Terrestrial organic matter
    • Scottish sea lochs
    • Diagenesis

    Cite this

    Loh, P. S. ; Reeves, A. D. ; Harvey, S. M. ; Overnell, J. ; Miller, A. E. J. / The fate of terrestrial organic matter in two Scottish sea lochs. In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 2008 ; Vol. 76, No. 3. pp. 566-579.
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    The fate of terrestrial organic matter in two Scottish sea lochs. / Loh, P. S.; Reeves, A. D.; Harvey, S. M.; Overnell, J.; Miller, A. E. J.

    In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Vol. 76, No. 3, 2008, p. 566-579.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Loh, P. S.

    AU - Reeves, A. D.

    AU - Harvey, S. M.

    AU - Overnell, J.

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    AB - Sea lochs are zones of rapid organic matter (OM) turnover. Most of this OM is of allochthonous origin, being introduced into the lochs via freshwater input. In this study the behaviour of terrestrially derived OM was elucidated using a combination of parameters which indicate OM diagenesis in the near surface sediments from two Scottish sea lochs, Loch Creran and Loch Etive. Alkaline CuO oxidation was used to determine lignin phenols which serve as biomarkers for terrestrial OM in sediments. Stable carbon isotope, total carbon and nitrogen and total OM (including the labile and refractory fractions) compositions were also determined. Lignin materials in the lochs were generally highly degraded and undergo little degradation further seaward. The vanillic acid to vanillin ratio, (Ad/Al)v in the lochs ranged from 0.52 to 2.69. However, there was a fraction of relatively fresh, land-derived OM, still undergoing degradation adding to the carbon cycling in the lochs, as indicated by the Rp values (ratio of refractory to total OM) and OC/N ratios in the surface sediments. The hydrological and hydrodynamic regimes in Loch Creran result in several phenomena such as the transportation of terrestrial debris via hydrodynamic sorting processes and the promotion of surface sediment diagenesis by bioturbation. Frequent water renewal results in better water circulation and oxygenation which facilitate OM decomposition. In Loch Etive the less frequent renewal gives rise to a more constant OM diagenesis along the loch.

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    ER -