Nitrate and Nitrite Variability at the Seafloor of an Oxygen Minimum Zone Revealed by a Novel Microfluidic In-Situ Chemical Sensor.

Yücel, Mustafa, Beaton, Alexander D., Dengler, Marcus , Mowlem, Matthew C., Sohl, Frank and Sommer, Stefan (2015) Nitrate and Nitrite Variability at the Seafloor of an Oxygen Minimum Zone Revealed by a Novel Microfluidic In-Situ Chemical Sensor. Open Access PLoS ONE, 10 (7). e0132785. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0132785.

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Microfluidics, or lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a promising technology that allows the development of miniaturized chemical sensors. In contrast to the surging interest in biomedical sciences, the utilization of LOC sensors in aquatic sciences is still in infancy but a wider use of such sensors could mitigate the undersampling problem of ocean biogeochemical processes. Here we describe the first underwater test of a novel LOC sensor to obtain in situ calibrated time-series (up to 40 h) of nitrate+nitrite (ΣNOx) and nitrite on the seafloor of the Mauritanian oxygen minimum zone, offshore Western Africa. Initial tests showed that the sensor successfully reproduced water column (160 m) nutrient profiles. Lander deployments at 50, 100 and 170 m depth indicated that the biogeochemical variability was high over the Mauritanian shelf: The 50 m site had the lowest ΣNOx concentration, with 15.2 to 23.4 μM (median=18.3 μM); while at the 100 site ΣNOx varied between 21.0 and 30.1 μM over 40 hours (median = 25.1μM). The 170 m site had the highest median ΣNOx level (25.8 μM) with less variability (22.8 to 27.7 μM). At the 50 m site, nitrite concentration decreased fivefold from 1 to 0.2 μM in just 30 hours accompanied by decreasing oxygen and increasing nitrate concentrations. Taken together with the time series of oxygen, temperature, pressure and current velocities, we propose that the episodic intrusion of deeper waters via cross-shelf transport leads to intrusion of nitrate-rich, but oxygen-poor waters to shallower locations, with consequences for benthic nitrogen cycling. This first validation of an LOC sensor at elevated water depths revealed that when deployed for longer periods and as a part of a sensor network, LOC technology has the potential to contribute to the understanding of the benthic biogeochemical dynamics.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: LOC, Lab on a Chip, nitriate, nitrite, Mauritania
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132785
ISSN: 1932-6203
Projects: ROBEX, SFB754
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2015 08:33
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 21:17

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