Aeration-induced marine sediment acidification in the vicinity of Rizhao Port, western Yellow Sea

Two short-term summer cruises were performed in the vicinity of Rizhao Port, western Yellow Sea, to investigate summer water stratification and the phenomenon of marine sediment acidification. Results show that water stratification has formed as early as in May. The chemoclines of dissolved oxygen (DO) and pH usually occur deeper than the thermocline. Sometimes the chemoclines of DO and pH occur synchronously at the same depths, but sometimes they do not synchronize. Above the chemocline DO fluctuates markedly and maintains at a high level or even oversaturation in daytime, suggesting the far-field impact of vessel propulsion. Below the chemocline it invariably remains at a low and stable level and slowly drops downward. The pH values of surface sediments vary in the range of 6.3–7.6. A conspicuous sediment acidification is observed along the navigation region. This phenomenon is chiefly attributed to the intermittent disruption of summer stratification by shipping activity along the shipping channel and waterways. Water stratification precludes the penetration of DO down to the bottom sediments on fair ocean status, and maintains anoxia below the sediment–water interface, whereas the abrupt DO increase driven by propeller agitating is nearly restricted in the navigation area. Therefore, the aeration effect accelerating oxidation of reducing substances and organic matter is primarily responsible for enhanced acid accumulation in surface sediments. In addition, the suspension effect is identified by the negative offsets of zero point on pH–mV diagram. Most of the measured points are scattered correspondingly on three distinct regression lines, with similar slopes but different negative offsets of pH 6.53, 6.87, and 6.99, respectively. Their geographical distribution suggests that this effect has a positive relationship with the intensity of anthropogenic disturbance. Although the suspension effect is caused by the adsorption of charged particles at the pH glass electrode interface (Yang et al. in Part Sci Technol 7:139–152, 1989), its various intensity observed in practice may also reflect the inherent distinction of depositional environments in physicochemical conditions.

Qin Y.-C., in press. Aeration-induced marine sediment acidification in the vicinity of Rizhao Port, western Yellow Sea. Geo-Marine Letters. Article (subscription required).

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