Speciation and Transformation of Phosphorus and Its Mixing Behavior In the Bay of St. Louis Estuary In the Northern Gulf of Mexico

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Marine Science


Water samples were collected for measurements of dissolved, colloidal, and particulate inorganic and organic phosphorus (P) from the Bay of St. Louis estuary in the northern Gulf of Mexico during August 2008 and October 2009. Laboratory mixing experiments were also carried out using end-member river water and seawater to examine key processes and mechanisms controlling the behavior of P during estuarine mixing. Dissolved organic P (DOP) was the dominant species in the total dissolved P (TDP) pool in both lower (S < 10) and higher salinity (S > 25) regions, while dissolved inorganic P (DIP) predominated in mid-salinity regions (S of 10 similar to 20) comprising up to 75% of the TDP. Both DIP and DOP behaved non-conservatively during estuarine mixing showing dramatic changes and transformation between different P species. The total particulate phosphorus (TPP) accounted for up to 85% of total phosphorus (TP = TDP + TPP) in the low-salinity areas but fell to about 38% in higher salinity regions. The quasi-negative correlation between TDP and TPP and the similarity in mixing behavior between field observations and laboratory experiments supported our hypothesis that physicochemical processes, such as dynamic repartitioning between water and particles or adsorption/desorption, are the predominant mechanisms controlling the biogeochemical cycling of P species in the Bay of St. Louis. River export fluxes of DIP could be significantly underestimated without the quantification of particulate P species, especially in more pristine river basins. The value of the distribution coefficient (in terms of logKd) ranged from 4.4 to 5.6 and decreased with increasing suspended particulate matter concentration and salinity, indicating that P is highly particle reactive and the presence of colloidal P may play an important role in the cycling of P in estuarine environments. Colloidal inorganic P (CIP) and colloidal organic P (COP), as quantified by an ultrafiltration permeation model, comprised 0-62% of the DIP and 34-93% of the DOP with the highest values in the river mouth area, suggesting a river source for colloidal P. The % CIP dropped to below the detection limit as salinity increased, whereas % COP first decreased but increased again with increasing salinity, reflecting different sources for CIP and COP in the lower estuary. The DOC/DOP ratio decreased rapidly with increasing salinity indicating a diagenetically older dissolved organic matter pool from the river and a dynamic change in sources and chemical speciation of P in the estuary. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta



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