Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
Research article
17 May 2013
Research article |  | 17 May 2013

Phosphorus sorption and buffering mechanisms in suspended sediments from the Yangtze Estuary and Hangzhou Bay, China

M. Li, M. J. Whelan, G. Q. Wang, and S. M. White

Abstract. The adsorption isotherm and the mechanism of the buffering effect are important controls on phosphorus (P) behaviors in estuaries and are important for estimating phosphate concentrations in aquatic environments. In this paper, we derive phosphate adsorption isotherms in order to investigate sediment adsorption and buffering capacity for phosphorus discharged from sewage outfalls in the Yangtze Estuary and Hangzhou Bay near Shanghai, China. Experiments were also carried out at different temperatures in order to explore the buffering effects for phosphate. The results show that P sorption in sediments with low fine particle fractions was best described using exponential equations. Some P interactions between water and sediment may be caused by the precipitation of CaHPO4 from Ca2+ and HPO42− when the phosphate concentration in the liquid phase is high. Results from the buffering experiments suggest that the Zero Equilibrium Phosphate Concentrations (EPC0) vary from 0.014 mg L−1 to 0.061 mg L−1, which are consistent with measured phosphate concentrations in water samples collected at the same time as sediment sampling. Values of EPC0 and linear sorption coefficients (K) in sediments with high fine particle and organic matter contents are relatively high, which implies that they have high buffering capacity. Both EPC0 and K increase with increasing temperature, indicating a higher P buffering capacity at high temperatures.

Final-revised paper