Organic iron complexes enhance iron transport capacity along estuarine salinity gradients of Baltic estuaries

Herzog, Simon David; Persson, Per; Kvashnina, Kristina; Kritzberg, Emma Sofia

Rivers discharge a notable amount of dissolved Fe (inline-formula1.5×109 mol yrinline-formula−1) to coastal waters but are still not considered important sources of bioavailable Fe to open marine waters. The reason is that the vast majority of particular and dissolved riverine Fe is considered to be lost to the sediment due to aggregation during estuarine mixing. Recently, however, several studies demonstrated relatively high stability of riverine Fe to salinity-induced aggregation, and it has been proposed that organically complexed Fe (Fe-OM) can “survive” the salinity gradient, while Fe (oxy)hydroxides are more prone to aggregation and selectively removed. In this study, we directly identified, by X-ray absorption spectroscopy, the occurrence of these two Fe phases across eight boreal rivers draining into the Baltic Sea and confirmed a significant but variable contribution of Fe-OM in relation to Fe (oxy)hydroxides among river mouths. We further found that Fe-OM was more prevalent at high flow conditions in spring than at low flow conditions during autumn and that Fe-OM was more dominant upstream in a catchment than at the river mouth. The stability of Fe to increasing salinity, as assessed by artificial mixing experiments, correlated well to the relative contribution of Fe-OM, confirming that organic complexes promote Fe transport capacity. This study suggests that boreal rivers may provide significant amounts of potentially bioavailable Fe beyond the estuary, due to organic matter complexes.

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Herzog, Simon David / Persson, Per / Kvashnina, Kristina / et al: Organic iron complexes enhance iron transport capacity along estuarine salinity gradients of Baltic estuaries. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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