Silica mass-balance and retention in the riverine and estuarine Scheldt tidal system (Belgium/The Netherlands)
Carbonnel, V.; Vanderborght, J.-P.; Chou, L. (2013). Silica mass-balance and retention in the riverine and estuarine Scheldt tidal system (Belgium/The Netherlands). Aquat. Geochem. 19(5-6): 501-516. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10498-013-9201-z
An annual budget for dissolved silica (DSi) and biogenic silica (BSi) was constructed for the Scheldt estuary and for the entire riverine and estuarine Scheldt tidal system (Belgium/The Netherlands) using previously published silica concentrations and fluxes for the period 2003–2005. The annual estuarine DSi mass-balance was established, based on seasonal fluxes estimated using measured DSi concentrations and (fully transient) model simulations of conservative transport. The annual BSi mass-balance was deduced from measured BSi contents in the suspended particulate matter and annual mud fluxes taken from the literature. The Scheldt estuary acted as a net sink not only for the BSi carried by the tidal river as well as that produced by diatoms in the estuary, but also for large amounts of BSi imported from the coastal zone. This results in the retention of dissolved and biogenic silica higher than that of DSi alone, which is in contrast with the classical consideration that rivers act as a source of BSi for the coastal zone. DSi and silica (DSi + BSi) retentions amounted to, respectively, 28 and 64 % in the estuary, and 33 and 66 % in the entire tidal system. This study highlights thus the predominant role of the estuary in the entire Scheldt tidal system when dealing with silica dynamics, as well as the importance of including BSi when investigating estuarine silica retention.
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