Characterization of dissolved organic matter from a restored urban
marsh and its role in the mobilization of trace metals

ElBishlawi, Hagar; Jaffe, Peter R.

Dissolved organic matter (DOM), although highly variable and not very well characterized, plays a role in many important environmental reaction and transport processes, including trace metal mobilization. This study characterizes heterogeneous DOM from the pore-water of a restored urban tidal marsh, using chemical, optical, and electrochemical methods for dissolved organic carbon/nitrogen ratios (C:N: 1.8–6.4), spectroscopic characteristics (decreased aromaticity in amended sediments), element ratios (maximum sediment-associated trace metal concentrations measured <30 cm), and metal complexation properties (log Kc: Cd: 10.7 ± 0.7 > Pb: 9.5 ± 0.1 > Cr: 7.3 ± 0.1 > Cu: 5.07 ± 0.53), all as a function of sediment depth.

Specific DOM properties from the restored marsh were then compared to pore-water samples from a natural marsh and a simulated wetland microcosm which resulted in similar values, while the reference humic acid significantly differed in properties from field DOM. The results revealed that reference humic acids do not accurately represent the complexity of natural heterogeneous DOM, whereas a simulated wetland microcosm may provide a reasonable representation of natural DOM.

Clear differences between amended and original soil (transition below 30 cm) were observed in DOM and trace metal properties including: lower DOM content, higher log Kc values, less DOM complexity, development of a iron-sulfide redox buffering pool, and greater affinity for metals in the solid phase occurring in the amended sediments.


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Center for International Earth Science Information Network
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September 18, 2015