A colorimetric DET technique for the high-resolution measurement of two-dimensional alkalinity distributions in sediment porewaters
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Measurements of porewater alkalinity are fundamental to the study of organic matter mineralization in sediments, which plays an essential role in the global cycles of carbon and nutrients. A new colorimetric diffusive equilibration in thin film (DET) technique is described for measuring two-dimensional total alkalinity distributions in sediment porewaters at high resolution (1–2 mm2). Thin polyacrylamide hydrogel layers (0.8 mm) equilibrate with the porewater and, after removal, are immediately laid onto another hydrogel containing formic acid, which reacts with alkalinity-generating species, and the pH-indicator bromophenol blue. The resultant color change is quantified using computer-imaging densitometry. The lower limit of detection is 0.2 meq L−1 and the upper measurement limit is 8 meq L−1. Deployment in seagrass colonized sediment revealed high levels of spatial heterogeneity in the porewater alkalinity distribution, with concentrations ranging from 2.28 meq L−1 in the overlying water to 5.13 meq L−1 in some parts of the sediment. This is the first time that two-dimensional, high-resolution distributions of porewater alkalinity have been measured.
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