Greenhouse gases, nutrients and the carbonate system in the Reloncaví Fjord (Northern Chilean Patagonia): implications on aquaculture of the mussel, Mytilus chilensis, during an episodic volcanic eruption

Highlights
• A large bloom of phytoplankton was detected in the surface waters of the Reloncaví fjord following the Calbuco volcano eruption.

• Subsequent to the Calbuco volcano eruption, higher N2O, CH4 and SO42− concentrations were observed in Fjord surface waters close to areas of river discharge.

• Optimal juvenile mussel growth was observed in refugee subsurface depths coinciding with increased aragonite saturation.

• Thus, the observed trends in the carbonate system and nutrient outputs may be valuable for developing effective management strategies for mussel aquaculture in the Reloncaví Fjord.

Abstract
This study investigates the immediate and mid-term effects of the biogeochemical variables input into the Reloncaví fjord (41°40′S; 72°23′O) as a result of the eruption of Calbuco volcano. Reloncaví is an estuarine system supporting one of the largest mussels farming production within Northern Chilean-Patagonia. Field-surveys were conducted immediately after the volcanic eruption (23–30 April 2015), one month (May 2015), and five months posterior to the event (September 2015). Water samples were collected from three stations along the fjord to determine greenhouse gases [GHG: methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O)], nutrients [NO3−, NO2−, PO43−, Si(OH)4, sulphate (SO42−)], and carbonate systems parameters [total pH (pHT), temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen (O2), and total alkalinity (AT)]. Additionally, the impact of physicochemical changes in the water column on juveniles of the produced Chilean blue mussel, Mytilus chilensis, was also studied. Following the eruption, a large phytoplankton bloom led to an increase in pHT, due to the uptake of dissolved-inorganic carbon in photic waters, potentially associated with the runoff of continental soil covered in volcanic ash. Indeed, high surface SO42− and GHG were observed to be associated with river discharges. No direct evidence of the eruption was observed within the carbonate system. Notwithstanding, a vertical pattern was observed, with an undersaturation of aragonite (ΩAr < 1) both in brackish surface (10 m), and saturated values in subsurface waters (3 to 7 m). Simultaneously, juvenile mussel shells showed maximized length and weight at 4 m depth. Results suggest a localized impact of the volcanic eruption on surface GHG, nutrients and short-term effects on the carbonate system. Optimal conditions for mussel calcification were identified within a subsurface refuge in the fjord. These specific attributes can be integrated into adaptation strategies by the mussel aquaculture industry to confront ocean acidification and changing runoff conditions.

Yevenes M. A., Lagos N. A., Farias L. & Vargas C. A., in press. Greenhouse gases, nutrients and the carbonate system in the Reloncaví Fjord (Northern Chilean Patagonia): implications on aquaculture of the mussel, Mytilus chilensis, during an episodic volcanic eruption. Science of the Total Environment. Article (subscription required).

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