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Transport of iron and manganese in relation to the shapes of their concentration-depth profiles


A model is presented which describes the transport of iron and manganese in the vicinity of a redox boundary. It is based on input of a particulate component, to form a point source, from which soluble species diffuse along a concentration gradient. The shapes of concentration-depth profiles in marine and freshwater sediments and water columns are reviewed and discussed in terms of the model. Transport, either entirely within a water column or within the sediment, may be simply treated because the rate of vertical transport can be regarded as constant. The discontinuity in the rate of vertical transport which occurs at the sediment-water interface can provide a complicated example of the model, especially when it coincides with the redox boundary. Authigenic mineral formation processes can modify the model, sometimes to such an extent that it becomes invalid. This is particularly true for soluble iron profiles in organically rich marine sediments. Sampling interval is critical to the resultant profile shape and must be relevant to the particular environment, e.g. metres in water columns and millimetres in sediments. The differences in the rates of reduction and oxidation of iron and manganese tend to modify both the position of the profile with respect to the redox-cline and its stage of development in a seasonally anoxic system. It is these factors which determine why most of the iron which reaches a sediment is permanently incorporated whereas manganese is re-released. This mechanism determines the average ratio of iron to manganese in sedimentary rocks. The development of peaked profile shapes in water columns implies that under certain conditions dissolved iron and manganese may be transported from the water column to the pore waters of the sediment.

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Davison, W. Transport of iron and manganese in relation to the shapes of their concentration-depth profiles. Hydrobiologia 91, 463–471 (1982).

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  • iron
  • manganese
  • sediments
  • water
  • transport
  • model