A seasonal analysis assesing variations in the oxygen isotopic composition of dissolved inorganic phosphate (DIP) was conducted in the San Francisco Bay estuarine system, California. Isotopic fractionation of oxygen in DIP (exchange of oxygen between phosphate and environmental water) at surface water temperatures occurs only as a result of enzyme-mediated, biological reactions. Accordingly, if phospate demand is low relative to input and phosphate is not heavily cycled in the ecosystem, the oxygen isotopic composition of DIP (?? 18Op) will reflect the isotopic composition of the source of phosphate to the system. Such is the case for the North San Francisco Bay, an anthropogenically impacted estuary with high surface water phosphate concentrations. Variability in the ?? 18Op in the bay is primarily controlled by mixing of water masses with different ??18Op signatures. The ??18Op values range from 11.4??? at the Sacramento River to 20.1??? at the Golden Gate. Deviations from the two-component mixing model for the North Bay reflect additional, local sources of phosphate to the estuary that vary seasonally. Most notably, deviations from the mixing model occur at the confluence of a major river into the bay during periods of high river discharge and near wastewater treatment outlets. These data suggest that ??18Op can be an effective tool for identifying P point sources and understanding phosphate dynamics in estuarine systems. Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Phosphate oxygen isotope ratios as a tracer for sources and cycling of phosphate in North San Francisco Bay, California