Floodplain Influence on Carbon Speciation and Fluxes from the Lower Pearl River, Mississippi

Document Type


Publication Date



Marine Science


To investigate the floodplain influence on carbon speciation and export to the northern Gulf of Mexico, water samples were collected monthly from two sites in the East Pearl River (EPR) basin during 2006-2008. Additionally, four spatial surveys in the river basin between those two sites were also conducted. Compared with the upstream sampling site at Bogalusa, MS, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) concentrations were 36% and 55% lower, respectively, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration was 49% higher at the downstream Stennis Space Center (SSC) site. In addition, the bulk DOC pool at SSC had a higher colloidal fraction than at Bogalusa (75% vs. 68%). Detailed spatial surveys revealed the differences between the upstream and downstream stations resulted both from input from Hobolochitto Creek, a tributary of the EPR, and from influence of the swamp-rich floodplain. The contributions from Hobolochitto Creek to the carbon pool in the EPR basin were lowest during a high flow event and reached a maximum during the dry season. Meanwhile, the floodplain in the EPR basin acted as a significant sink for DOC, POC and particulate nitrogen during summer and for suspended sediment during a high flow event. However, the floodplain was converted into a source of suspended sediment, DOC, and POC to the EPR during winter, revealing a dynamic nature and seasonality in the floodplain influence. Consistent with its dominant forest coverage, abundant wetlands along the river corridor, and mild anthropogenic disturbance, the Pearl River basin above Bogalusa generally had higher yields of DOC and POC (1903 and 1386 kg-C km-2 yr-1, respectively), but a lower yield of DIC (2126 kg-C km-2 yr-1) compared to other North American rivers. An estimation based on a mass balance approach suggests the interactions between floodplain and the main river stem could reduce the annual DIC and POC export fluxes from downstream of the EPR by 24% and 40%, respectively, but enhance the annual riverine DOC export by 25%. Similar scenarios likely occur in other wetland-rich coastal rivers and are capable of significantly altering the current estimation of riverine carbon export. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta



First Page


Last Page


Find in your library