Field measurements and modeling of groundwater flow and biogeochemistry at Moses Hammock, a backbarrier island on the Georgia coast

Porubsky W. P., Joye S. B., Moore W. S., TUNCAY K., Meile C.

BIOGEOCHEMISTRY, vol.104, pp.69-90, 2011 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 104
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10533-010-9484-8
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.69-90
  • Keywords: Hammock groundwater, Nitrogen cycle, Upland-marsh transition, Spring-neap tide cycle, Reaction transport modeling, DISSIMILATORY NITRATE REDUCTION, HYDROGEN-SULFIDE, ORGANIC-MATTER, GENERAL-THEORY, AMMONIUM DNRA, NITROGEN, DENITRIFICATION, SEDIMENTS, TRANSPORT, ESTUARY
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


A combination of field measurements, laboratory experiments and model simulations were used to characterize the groundwater biogeochemical dynamics along a shallow monitoring well transect on a coastal hammock. A switch in the redox status of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) pool in the well at the upland/saltmarsh interface occurred over the spring-neap tidal transition: the DIN pool was dominated by nitrate during spring tide and by ammonium during neap tide. A density-dependent reaction-transport model was used to investigate the relative importance of individual processes to the observed N redox-switch. The observed N redox-switch was evaluated with regard to the roles of nitrification, denitrification, dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA), ammonium adsorption, and variations in inflowing water geochemistry between spring and neap tides. Transport was driven by measured pressure heads and process parameterizations were derived from field observations, targeted laboratory experiments, and the literature. Modeling results suggest that the variation in inflow water chemistry was the dominant driver of DIN dynamics and highlight the importance of spring-neap tide variations in the high marsh, which influences groundwater biogeochemistry at the marsh-upland transition.