Interstitial Nitrate Profiles and Oxidation of Sedimentary Organic Matter in the Eastern Equatorial Atlantic

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Science  11 Nov 1977:
Vol. 198, Issue 4317, pp. 605-609
DOI: 10.1126/science.198.4317.605


Pore-water nitrate concentrations in six pelagic eastern equatorial Atlantic cores increase from bottom water values (22 micromolar) to 40 micromolar at a depth of about 5 centimeters, then decrease to undetectable levels at depths as shallow as 40 centimeters. These nitrate concentrations and concentration gradients reflect zones of oxygen reduction, nitrate reduction, and sulfate reduction in the sediments. The estimated benthic flux of nitrate to the ocean from our data is much less than the total globalflux of nitrate to deep waters, even though these equatorial sediments underlie a productive upwelling zone. The estimated denitrification rate in our study area suggests that pelagic sediments may be important sites of marine denitrification.