Distribution of dissolved organic matter in estuaries of the southern Iberian Atlantic Basin: Sources, behavior and export to the coastal zone

Amaral, V.; Romera-Castillo, C.; Garcíaa-Delgado, M.; Gómez-Parra, A.; Forja, J.
Marine Chemistry
The Gulf of Cádiz, located in the Southern Iberian Atlantic Basin, connects the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and receives freshwater input from three main estuaries: Guadalquivir, Guadiana, and Tinto-Odiel. These estuaries differ in their hydrology, basin characteristic, and land use. One of them, Tinto-Odiel, is one of the most polluted estuaries in the world. However, little is known about the export of DOM from these estuaries to the Gulf of C'adiz. In this work, the estuaries were sampled during the dry season. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) was chemically characterized along a longitudinal gradient to better understand the reactivity and fate of carbon exported to the Gulf of C'adiz. We also performed a tidal study at the mouth of each estuary to understand how the tide affects the composition of DOM and its export to the coastal zone. Fluorescent DOM (FDOM) modeling employing multivariate parallel factor analysis and pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy analysis (Py-GC–MS) were used to characterize DOM. DOM from Guadalquivir and Guadiana estuaries presented a predominant allochthonous origin with humic-like compounds making up to $sim$80% of the total fluorescent DOM. These estuaries receive lateral inputs from surrounding watersheds and agricultural practices. Instead, in Tinto-Odiel estuary, DOM was predominantly autochthonous with a higher content of protein-like material associated with the prevalence of the marine influence over the low water discharges and anthropogenic pollution from industrial activities. Tidal cycles affected the distribution of DOM and its quality with higher humic-like material during low tide and protein-like substances predominating during high tide. During the dry season, the three estuaries represented a source of DOM to the Gulf of C'adiz. Guadalquivir was the main contributor with 1.25 Kg C s−1 and 0.22 × 103 m2 s−1, for DOC and CDOM, respectively. Around 70% of the FDOM exported from the three estuaries was of humic nature. The results obtained in this work highlight the importance of local conditions, such as the basin characteristic and estuarine biogeochemical reactivity in the composition of the DOM exported to the coastal ocean. Moreover, Py-GC–MS analysis was a useful technique, complementary to fluorescence spectroscopy, which improves DOM characterization in estuarine systems.
Carbon flux and tides,Dissolved organic matter,EEMs-PARAFAC,Pyrolisis-GC-MS
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