Denitrification and N2O production in near-shore marine sediments

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Methods were developed for determining rates of denitrification in coastal marine sediments by measuring the production of N2 from undisturbed cores incubated in gas-tight chambers. Denitrification rates at summer temperatures (23°C) in sediment cores from Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, were about 50μmol N2m−2 hr−1. This nitrogen flux is equal to approximately one-half of the NH+4flux from the sediments at this temperature and is of the magnitude necessary to account for the anomalously low N/P and anomalously high O/N ratios often reported for benthic nutrient fluxes. The loss of fixed nitrogen as N2 during the benthic remineralization of organic matter, coupled with the importance of benthic remineralization processes in shallow coastal waters may help to explain why the availability of fixed nitrogen is a major factor limiting primary production in these areas. Narragansett Bay sediments are also a source of N2O, but the amount of nitrogen involved was only about 0.2 μmol m−2 hr−1 at 23°C. © 1980, All rights reserved.

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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta