Ni cycling in mangrove sediments from New Caledonia
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
In New Caledonia, mangroves receive large inputs of lateritic materials eroded from massive ultramafic deposits enriched in Fe, Ni, Mn, Cr, and Co. Because of the major physicochemical gradients, especially redox gradients, that characterize these ecosystems, mineralogical transformations may influence the crystal-chemistry and bioavailability of Ni and its mobility towards a lagoon of over 20,000 km2. Bulk and spatially resolved chemical analyses by SEM-EDXS were coupled with Ni K-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) spectroscopy analysis to characterize the vertical and lateral changes in Ni speciation across the intertidal zone of a mangrove forest in the Vavouto Bay (New Caledonia) where Ni concentrations range from 1000 to 5300 mg•kg-1. XAFS results indicate that phyllosilicates and goethite inherited from the eroded lateritic materials are the dominant Ni-bearing phases in the surface horizons of the mangrove sediments. They are fully preserved at depth in the dry and oxic salt flat area, located on the inland side of the coast. In contrast, beneath the vegetated Rhizophoras and Avicennias stands Ni-bearing goethites rapidly diminish with increasing depth in the anoxic horizons of the sediments, and pyrite and organic complexes become the dominant Ni-containing species. Moreover, Ni incorporation in pyrite is more developed in the sediments beneath the intermediate Avicennia stand than beneath the Rhizophora stand that is closest to the shore. Such lateral changes in Ni speciation may be related to reoxidation of Ni-bearing pyrites in the Rhizophora stand, which is subject to periodic alternation of reducing and oxidizing events due to tidal fluctuations. These major changes in Ni speciation could significantly influence Ni mobility across the interidal zone. Indeed, as estimated with respect to Ti concentration, which is taken as a geochemical invariant, Ni is found to be immobile in the salt flat, to accumulate beneath the Avicennia stand, and to be partially leached beneath the Rhizophora stand.