The influence of sediment-derived dissolved organic matter in the Vistula River Estuary/Gulf of Gdansk

Heather E. Reader*, Franziska Thoms, Maren Voss, Colin A. Stedmon

*Corresponding author for this work

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Dissolved organic matter (DOM) concentrations in sediment porewaters are often orders of magnitude higher than in the overlying water column resulting in a diffusive flux of DOM from sediments. The intensity and fate of this DOM flux is poorly understood. The Gulf of Gdansk in the Southern Baltic Sea is dominated by the Vistula River, one of the largest and most anthropogenically impacted rivers in the Baltic Sea catchment.

The sediment characteristics of the region are varied, from mixed sandy conditions near shore to mud sediments in the Gdansk Deep. We investigated the significance of sediment‐derived DOM in the Gulf of Gdansk in comparison to that supplied by the river. Sediment‐derived DOM in the region was found to have an organic matter fluorescence signature distinct from the DOM in the water column.

The visible wavelength fluorescence could be used to distinguish organic matter from near shore sediments influenced by riverine sources and organic matter from deeper offshore sediments, influenced by more pelagic sources. Ultraviolet‐A wavelength fluorescence dominated the sediment flux but was rapidly removed in bottom waters suggesting that it may contribute to bottom water oxygen consumption.

While there is potential for DOM fluxes from sediments in the Gulf of Gdansk, the high background pelagic concentration of DOM in these waters and the much stronger influence of the Vistula River can mask the contributions from sediments
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)115-126
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Vistula River
  • Sediment
  • Baltic Sea
  • FDOM
  • Dissolved organic matter

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