Reduced sulfur accumulation in salinised sediments

Kerry L. Whitworth, Darren S. Baldwin

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The accumulation of reduced sulfur species in the sediments of salinised inland waterways poses a serious environmental risk to many historically freshwater environments. Here the effects of salinity (and associated sulfate concentration), organic carbon load and temperature on reduced sulfur accumulation and speciation in closed microcosms containing sediments from a wetland that had not previously been salinised are examined. At conductivities of up to 10 000 µS cm–1, extant sediment carbon was sufficient to allow reduction of the entire sulfate load. Sulfate reduction was carbon limited at higher salinities. The rate of sulfate reduction approximately tripled with an increase in temperature from 20 to 30°C. Speciation studies showed that elemental sulfur and an unidentified sulfur species – probably reduced organic sulfur – were the dominant reduced sulfur species present during the early stages of sulfate reduction. By the end of the incubation period (226 days), reactive forms of S (elemental sulfur and acid-volatile sulfide) dominated. In the low conductivity treatments (0 and 1000 µS cm–1) reduced sulfur was approximately equally distributed between the two forms; acid volatile sulfide comprised ~75% of the reduced sulfur at higher salinities. Formation of less reactive di-sulfide minerals was inconsequential over the timescale of this experiment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-206
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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