The Roles of Resuspension, Diffusion and Biogeochemical Processes on Oxygen Dynamics Offshore of the Rhone River, France: A Numerical Modeling Study Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. Observations indicate that seabed resuspension of organic material and the associated entrainment of porewater into the overlying water can alter biogeochemical fluxes in some environments, but measuring the role of sediment processes on oxygen and nutrient dynamics is challenging. A modeling approach offers a means of quantifying these fluxes for a range of conditions, but models have typically relied on simplifying assumptions regarding seabed-water column interactions. Thus, to evaluate the role of resuspension on biogeochemical dynamics, we developed a coupled hydrodynamic, sediment transport, and biogeochemical model (HydroBioSed) within the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS). This coupled model accounts for processes including the storage of particulate organic matter (POM) and dissolved nutrients within the seabed; entrainment of this material into the water column via resuspension and diffusion at the sediment-water interface; and biogeochemical reactions within the seabed. A one-dimensional version of HydroBioSed was then implemented for the Rhone Delta, France. To isolate the role of resuspension on biogeochemical dynamics, this model implementation was run for a two-month period that included three resuspension events; also, the supply of organic matter, oxygen and nutrients to the water column was held constant in time. Consistent with time-series observations from the Rhone Delta, model results showed that resuspension increased the diffusive flux of oxygen into the seabed by increasing the vertical gradient of oxygen at the seabed-water interface. This enhanced supply of oxygen to the seabed allowed seabed oxygen consumption to increase, primarily through nitrification. Resuspension of POM into the water column, and the associated increase in remineralization, also increased oxygen consumption in the bottom boundary layer. During these resuspension events, modeled rates of oxygen consumption increased by up to factors of ~ 2 and ~ 8 in the seabed and bottom boundary layer, respectively. When averaged over two months, the intermittent cycles of erosion and deposition led to a 20 % increase of oxygen consumption in the seabed, as well as a larger increase of ~ 200 % in the bottom boundary layer. These results imply that observations collected during quiescent periods, and biogeochemical models that neglect resuspension or use typical parameterizations for resuspension, may underestimate net oxygen consumption at sites like the Rhone Subaqueous Delta. Local resuspension likely has the most pronounced effect on oxygen dynamics at study sites with a high oxygen concentration in the bottom boundary layer, only a thin seabed oxic layer, and abundant labile organic matter.;

publication date

  • November 15, 2016

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • January 18, 2021 9:37 AM

Full Author List

  • Moriarty JM; Harris CK; Rabouille C; Fennel K; Friedrichs MAM; Xu K

author count

  • 6

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