Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (BS)
College of Science
Sulfate is an inorganic ion that is one of the major ions of seawater. Sulfate is also an essential reactant in microbially mediated anaerobic respiration that produces sulfide, an energy source during chemosynthesis. Sulfide is widely found in sediment, and water rich in decaying organic material, as well as hydrothermal vents. While sulfate reduction occurs extensively in muds, such as those of marshes, it is not expected to occur in sand which is much better aerated. Recent research in our group documented extensive sub aerobic respiration in coastal sands which suggests that sulfate reduction may have also been happening. This reduction of sulfate in coastal sands can be significant because it may potentially remove harmful amounts of organic matter pollution from land and prevent it from entering the coastal ocean. A sulfide analysis method that was established in the sand biogeochemistry lab determined that sulfate reduction occurs both near the shoreline and the back of the swash by measuring sulfide concentrations in the sediment column at two stations in Singleton Swash. Sediment permeability was higher at the beach station which also had higher oxygen concentrations and lower sulfide concentrations than the swash station, suggesting a role for permeability in determining respiration type.
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Ballard, Jacey, "Suboxic and anaerobic respiration across a sandy-shore-to-estuarine gradient" (2023). Honors Theses. 458.