Iron sulfide formation in young and rapidly-deposited permeable sands at the land-sea transition zone.

Author(s) Seibert, S.L.; Böttcher, M.E.; Schubert, F.; Pollmann, T.; Giani, L.; Tsukamoto, S.; Frechen, M.; Freund, H.; Waska, H.; Simon, H.; Holt, T.; Greskowiak, J.; Massmann, G.
Journal Sci Total Environ
Date Published 2019 Feb 01

Organic-poor, permeable quartz sands are often present at land-sea transition zones in coastal regions. Yet, the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, sulfur, and iron are not well studied here. The aim of this work was, therefore, to improve our understanding regarding the chemical processes in these prominent coastal sediments. A 10 m core was collected at a dune base of the barrier island Spiekeroog, Germany, for this purpose. Additionally, groundwater was sampled from a multi-level well for one year to record seasonal hydrochemical variations. Methods included the analyses of geochemical (total carbon, total inorganic carbon, reactive iron, total sulfur, reduced inorganic sulfur) and hydrochemical parameters (field parameters, major ions, DOC, and molecular compositions of DOM), as well as stable sulfur isotopes (δS-sulfate, -sulfide, -total reduced inorganic sulfur). Moreover, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating was applied. Results show that the core sediments are very young (<500 a) and were rapidly deposited. They are characterized by remarkably low contents of organic carbon (<0.1% dw.), reactive iron (~10 mmol/kg), and iron sulfides (<3 mmol/kg). Groundwater salinities were low in the top core sediments and increased at depth during most times of the year. However, the sampling site is subject to (seasonally) varying salinities, which could be linked to the biogeochemical cycles. For instance, the infiltration of seawater-derived labile DOM during inundation events drives microbial respiration besides sedimentary organic matter. Oxygen and nitrate were the dominant electron acceptors for the decomposition of organic matter in near-surface groundwater, while sulfate reduction was constrained to the lower brackish sediments. Here, authigenic pyrite formation was inferred based on the detection of dissolved sulfide, intact pyrite framboids, and matching stable sulfur isotope signatures of dissolved and solid sulfides. We concluded that the extremely low organic carbon contents limit pyrite formation in the organic-poor, permeable quartz sands.

DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.278
ISSN 1879-1026
Citation Sci Total Environ. 2019;649:264283.

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