NUTRIENT REGENERATION AND OXYGEN-DEMAND IN BERING SEA CONTINENTAL-SHELF SEDIMENTS
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Measurements of seabed oxygen demand and nutrient regeneration were made on continental shelf sediments in the southeast Bering Sea from 1 to 15 June 1981. The mean seabed oxygen demand was relatively modest (267 M O2 m-2 h-1), equivalent to a utilization of 60 mg organic carbon m-2 day-1. The seasonal build up of ammonium over the mid-shelf domain was generated at least in part by the bottom biota, as previously suggested (Whitledge et al., 1986, Continental Shelf Research, 5, 109-132), but on the outer shelf nitrate replaced ammonium as the dominant inorganic nitrogen compound that was regenerated from the sediments. Comparison of oxygen consumption with the organic matter in sedimenting particulate matter (sampled with sediment traps) could imply that benthic processes were not accounting for the fate of considerable quantities of organic matter. Benthic oxygen demand rates, however, probably lag behind the input of the spring bloom to the bottom, thus extending the remineralization process out over time. Consumption by small microheterotrophs in the water column was also a likely sink, although shelf export and advective transport north were possible as well. Estimated nitrification rates in surface sediments could account for only a small fraction of the abrupt increase in nitrate observed in the water column over the shelf just prior to the spring bloom. 1992.