Coupled dynamics of iron, manganese, and phosphorus in brackish coastal sediments populated by cable bacteria

Martijn Hermans, Marina Astudillo Pascual, Thilo Behrends, Wytze K. Lenstra, Daniel J. Conley, Caroline P. Slomp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coastal waters worldwide suffer from increased eutrophication and seasonal bottom water hypoxia. Here, we assess the dynamics of iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and phosphorus (P) in sediments of the eutrophic, brackish Gulf of Finland populated by cable bacteria. At sites where bottom waters are oxic in spring, surface enrichments of Fe and Mn oxides and high abundances of cable bacteria were observed in sediments upon sampling in early summer. At one site, Fe and P were enriched in a thin layer (~ 3 mm) just below the sediment–water interface. X-ray absorption near edge structure and micro X-ray fluorescence analyses indicate that two-thirds of the P in this layer was associated with poorly crystalline Fe oxides, with an additional contribution of Mn(II) phosphates. The Fe enriched layer was directly overlain by a Mn oxide-rich surface layer (~ 2 mm). The Fe oxide layer was likely of diagenetic origin, formed through dissolution of Fe monosulfides and carbonates, potentially induced by cable bacteria in the preceding months when bottom waters were oxic. Most of the Mn oxides were likely deposited from the water column as part of a cycle of repeated deposition and remobilization. Further research is required to confirm whether cable bacteria activity in spring indeed promotes the formation of distinct layers enriched in Fe, Mn, and P minerals in Gulf of Finland sediments. The temporal variations in biogeochemical cycling in this seasonally hypoxic coastal system, potentially controlled by cable bacteria activity, have little impact on permanent sedimentary Fe, Mn, and P burial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2611-2631
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geochemistry


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