Laboratory studies on the coprecipitation of phosphate with calcium carbonate in the Salton Sea, California
The Salton Sea is a hypereutrophic, saline lake in the desert of southern California. Like many lakes, the primary productivity of the Sea is limited by phosphorus. However, unlike most lakes, the release of P from the sediments is not controlled by the reductive dissolution of Fe(III)-oxide minerals. Most of the iron in the sediments of the Salton Sea is present as Fe(II)-sulfides and silicates. Rather, the sediments are dominated by calcite which is actively precipitating due to alkalinity production via sulfate reduction reactions. We hypothesized that calcite could be an important sink for phosphorus released from the decomposing organic matter. In this work we evaluated the potential for phosphate to coprecipitate with calcite formed in simulated Salton Sea sediment pore water. At calcite precipitation levels and P concentrations typical for the Salton Sea pore water, coprecipitation of P removed 82–100% of the dissolved phosphorus. The amount of P incorporated into the calcite was independent of temperature. The results of this work indicate that the internal loading of P within the Salton Sea is being controlled by calcite precipitation. Management of external P loading should have an immediate impact on reducing algae blooms in the Salton Sea.
KeywordsPhosphorus Calcite precipitation Adsorption Internal loading
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