A model for uranium, rhenium, and molybdenum diagenesis in marine sediments based on results from coastal locations Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The purpose of this research is to characterize the mobilization and immobilization processes that control the authigenic accumulation of uranium (U), rhenium (Re) and molybdenum (Mo) in marine sediments. We analyzed these redox– sensitive metals (RSM) in benthic chamber, pore water and solid phase samples at a site in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, U.S.A., which has high bottom water oxygen concentrations (230–300 mol/L) and high organic matter oxidation rates (390 mol C/cm2/y). The oxygen penetration depth varies from 2–9 mm below the sediment–water interface, but pore water sulfide is below detection (< 2M). The RSM pore water profiles are modeled with a steady–state diagenetic model that includes irrigation, which extends 10–20 cm below the sediment–water interface. To present a consistent description of trace metal diagenesis in marine sediments, RSM results from sediments in Buzzards Bay are compared with previous research from sulfidic sediments (Morford et al., GCA 71). Release of RSM to pore waters during the remineralization of solid phases occurs near the sediment–water interface at depths above the zone of authigenic RSM formation. This release occurs consistently for Mo at both sites, but only in the winter for Re in Buzzards Bay and intermittently for U. At the Buzzards Bay site, Re removal to the solid phase extends to the bottom of the profile, while the zone of removal is restricted to ~2–9 cm for U and Mo. Authigenic Re formation is independent of the anoxic remineralization rate, which is consistent with an abiotic removal mechanism. The rate of authigenic U formation and its modeled removal rate constant increase with increasing anoxic remineralization rates, and is consistent with U reduction being microbially mediated. Authigenic Mo formation is related to the formation of sulfidic microenvironments. The depth and extent of Mo removal from pore water is closely associated with the balance between iron and sulfate reduction and the consumption of pore water sulfide via iron sulfide formation. Pore water RSM reach constant asymptotic concentrations in sulfidic sediments, but only pore water Re is constant at depth in Buzzards Bay. The increases in pore water U at the Buzzards Bay site are consistent with addition via irrigation and subsequent upward diffusion to the removal zone. Deep pore water Mo concentrations exceed its bottom water concentration due to irrigation–induced oxidation and remobilization from the solid phase. In sulfidic sediments, there is no evidence for higher pore water U or Mo concentrations at depth due to the absence of irrigation and/or the presence of more stable authigenic RSM phases. There are good correlations between benthic fluxes and authigenic accumulation rates for U and Mo in sulfidic sediments. However, results from Buzzards Bay suggest irrigation ultimately results in the partial loss of U and Mo from the solid phase, with accumulation rates that are 20–30% of the modeled flux. Irrigation can augment (Re, possibly U) or compromise (U, Mo) authigenic accumulation in sediments, and is important when determining burial rates in continental margin sediments.

publication date

  • May 2009