Steep biogeochemical gradients were measured at mixing interfaces in a wetland-aquifer system impacted by landfill leachate in Norman, Oklahoma. The system lies within a reworked alluvial plain and is characterized by layered low hydraulic conductivity wetland sediments interbedded with sandy aquifer material. Using cm-scale passive diffusion samplers, "peepers", water samples were collected in a depth profile to span interfaces between surface water and a sequence of deeper sedimentary layers. Geochemical indicators including electron acceptors, low-molecular-weight organic acids, base cations, and NH4+ were analyzed by capillary electrophoresis (CE) and field techniques to maximize the small sample volumes available from the centimeter-scale peepers. Steep concentration gradients of biogeochemical indicators were observed at various interfaces including those created at sedimentary boundaries and boundaries created by heterogeneities in organic C and available electron acceptors. At the sediment-water interface, chemical profiles with depth suggest that SO42 - and Fe reduction dominate driven by inputs of organic C from the wetland and availability of electron acceptors. Deeper in the sediments (not associated with a lithologic boundary), a steep gradient of organic acids (acetate maximum 8.8 mM) and NH4+ (maximum 36 mM) is observed due to a localized source of organic matter coupled with the lack of electron acceptor inputs. These findings highlight the importance of quantifying the redox reactions occurring in small interface zones and assessing their role on biogeochemical cycling at the system scale. ?? 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Centimeter-scale characterization of biogeochemical gradients at a wetland-aquifer interface using capillary electrophoresis