TEST Tight benthic-pelagic coupling drives seasonal and interannual changes in iron‑sulfur cycling in Arctic fjord sediments (Kongsfjorden, Svalbard)

Clara.Hoppe [ at ] awi.de


testTEST Glaciated fjords are dynamic systems dominated by seasonal events such as spring phytoplankton blooms and pulses of glacial sediment-bearing meltwater delivery. These fjords are also characterized by strong spatial gradients in environmental factors such as sedimentation rate and primary productivity from the glacier-influenced head to the marine-influenced mouth. Such seasonal variations and spatial gradients, combined with the ongoing influence of climate change, generate non-steady state conditions, which have a strong impact on the mineralization of organic carbon in the fjord sediments and the flux of nutrients from the seabed. In order to investigate the role of fjord seasonal events and variability on diagenetic cycling of iron (Fe) and sulfur (S), we sampled Kongsfjorden (Svalbard, 79°N) in the spring, mid-summer, and late summer. We investigated sediment structure and biogeochemistry, conducted laboratory experiments to determine reaction rates, and compared these findings to water column productivity and turbidity. We found that rapid sedimentation near the glacial input buried algal matter-rich layers that fueled sub-surface peaks in mineralization rates over multi-year timescales. Sulfate reduction rates were limited by organic carbon availability and competition with Fe-reducers, while Fe reduction was controlled by the availability of reactive Fe(III) oxides. Pore water Fe2+ concentrations were influenced by sulfur cycling pathways and abiotic reactions such as carbonate precipitation and potentially reverse weathering. Seasonal changes in sedimentation and organic carbon supply caused lower sulfate reduction and sulfide production rates in spring, driving generally higher spring fluxes of Fe2+ from the sediment. The results of this study reveal the potential for an increased benthic source of nutrients such as Fe with continued benthic remineralization over winter in Kongsfjorden. Interannual changes in primary productivity, which are likely to intensify with global warming, and shifts in glacial sediment delivery have immediate impacts on the benthic cycling of Fe and S in this tightly coupled system, with a long term trend likely toward decreased benthic Fe fluxes. With the glacial retreat and changes in productivity predicted due to climate change, glaciated fjords such as Kongsfjorden may become a less efficient carbon sink by burying less terrestrial and marine-sourced organic matter in the deep sediments.

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Primary Division
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Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Research Networks
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Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2021.103645

Cite as
Herbert, L. C. , Michaud, A. B. , Laufer-Meiser, K. , Hoppe, C. J. , Zhu, Q. , Aller, R. C. , Jørgensen, B. B. and Wehrmann, L. M. (2000): TEST Tight benthic-pelagic coupling drives seasonal and interannual changes in iron‑sulfur cycling in Arctic fjord sediments (Kongsfjorden, Svalbard) , Journal of Marine Systems, 225 , p. 103645 . doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2021.103645

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Arctic Land Expeditions > CA-Land_2021_ReindeerIsland

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