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Evaluation of the nitrogen isotope-pairing method for measuring benthic denitrification: A simulation analysis

Middelburg, J.J. and Soetaert, K.E.R. and Herman, P.M.J. (1996) Evaluation of the nitrogen isotope-pairing method for measuring benthic denitrification: A simulation analysis. Limnology and Oceanography, 41, 1839-1844. ISSN 0024-3590.

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Official URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2838669

Abstract

The nitrogen isotope-pairing method to measure sedimentary denitrification is evaluated by means of a general diagenetic model that describes the depth distribution of O-2, NH4+, (NO3- )-N-14, and (NO3-)-N-15, among others. The model simulations demonstrate that isotope fractionation effects during denitrification can be neglected, but that nonuniform mixing of added (NO3-)-N-15 with locally produced (NO3-)-N-14 causes underestimation of in situ rates of denitrification. Enrichment of bottom water with (NO3-)-N-15 concentrations above ambient levels not only results in enhanced rates of denitrification, but may also change in situ rates of coupled nitrification- denitrification. However, the resulting rates usually deviate <10% from in situ values, and the nitrogen isotope-pairing method therefore remains a powerful technique to determine rates of denitrification in sediments. We argue that one should not partition denitrification into bottom-water-supported and nitrification-coupled components. This partitioning causes confusion, is not required to understand sedimentary nitrogen cycling, and does not reflect a physically realizable situation. [KEYWORDS: Sediments; nitrification]

Item Type:Article
Institutes:Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO)
ID Code:10417
Deposited On:25 Nov 2011 01:00
Last Modified:15 Jan 2014 09:36

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