Interactive Aggregation and Sedimentation of Diatoms and clay-sized lithogenic Material

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Hamm, C. (2002): Interactive Aggregation and Sedimentation of Diatoms and clay-sized lithogenic Material , Limnology and Oceanography 47(6), pp. 1790-1795 .
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Monospecific diatom cultures (Thalassiosira punctigera and Skeletonema costatum) were incubated in rotating cylinders together with clay suspensions, present in a range of concentrations (5-100 mg kaolinite/L) and as different minerals (50 mg/L kaolinite, smectite, illite and clay-sized quartz powder). The addition of lithogenic suspensions to diatom cultures accelerated the formation of visible aggregates in the roller tanks by a factor of > 3. Aggregate size decreased and density increased proportionally to the amount of kaolinite added to the diatom cultures. In the presence of kaolinite and illite, aggregate sizes were smaller and sinking rates lower, than in the presence of smectite and quartz. The influence of lithogenic matter on the sinking velocities of aggregates was ambiguous. Compound aggregates sank faster with increasing amounts of lithogenic matter present in diatom cultures until a certain ratio between lithogenic and biogenic material was reached, further increasing the amount of lithogenic matter led to the production of slower sinking aggregates. This non-linear behaviour is argued to be a function of effects of aggregate composition on aggregate sizes and excess densities. The possibility of a mutual acceleration of vertical flux of algae and clay in the marine environment is confirmed.

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