Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
Research article
17 Jan 2013
Research article |  | 17 Jan 2013

Biogenic nitrogen gas production at the oxic–anoxic interface in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela

E. Montes, M. A. Altabet, F. E. Muller-Karger, M. I. Scranton, R. C. Thunell, C. Benitez-Nelson, L. Lorenzoni, and Y. M. Astor

Abstract. Excess nitrogen gas (N2xs) was measured in samples collected at six locations in the eastern and western sub-basins of the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela, in September 2008 (non-upwelling conditions) and March 2009 (upwelling conditions). During both sampling periods, N2xs concentrations were below detection in surface waters, increasing to ~ 22 μmol N kg−1 at the oxic–anoxic interface ([O2] < ~ 4 μmol kg−1, ~ 250 m). Below the oxic–anoxic interface (300–400 m), the average concentration of N2xs was 24.7 ± 1.9 μmol N kg−1 in September 2008 and 27.5 ± 2.0 μmol N kg−1 in March 2009, i.e., N2xs concentrations within this depth interval were ~ 3 μmol N kg−1 higher (p < 0.001) during the upwelling season compared to the non-upwelling period. These results suggest that N-loss in the Cariaco Basin may vary seasonally in response to changes in the flux of sinking particulate organic matter. We attribute the increase in N2xs concentrations, or N-loss, observed during upwelling to: (1) higher availability of fixed nitrogen derived from suspended and sinking particles at the oxic–anoxic interface and/or (2) enhanced ventilation at the oxic–anoxic interface during upwelling.

Final-revised paper