The impact of drying on structure of sedimentary organic matter in wetlands: Probing with native and amended polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

The Science of the Total Environment
Zucheng WangLawrence M Mayer


Wetland sediments undergo dry-wet cycles that may change their structural properties and affect geochemical behavior of associated organic compounds. In this study, we examined the effect of drying on particle size distributions and the rapid (24h) sorption reactions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with salt marsh sediments in Nueces Delta, South Texas. Drying reduced the fraction of fine particles in organically richer sediments, indicating structural rearrangement of organic matter and mineral aggregates. Among the 16 EPA priority PAHs examined, dried sediment preferentially released 1.0-7.5% of phenanthrene, fluoranthene and pyrene to added seawater (solid: water mass ratio of 1/100) - significantly greater than release from sediments maintained in the wet state. On the other hand, drying also increased the affinity of sedimentary organic matter (SOM) for experimentally amended (deuterated) phenanthrene relative to continually wet sediments. Further, deuterated phenanthrene was even more effectively retained when it was added to wet sediment that was subsequently dried and rewetted. These apparently contradictory results can be reconciled and explained by SOM having a heterogeneous distribution of hydrophobic and ...Continue Reading


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