Dissolution Rates of Biogenic Carbonate Sediments from the Bermuda Platform

Alyssa Jean Finlay, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States and Andreas J Andersson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, CA, United States
The contribution of biogenic carbonate sediment dissolution rates to overall net reef accretion/erosion (under both present and future oceanic pCO2 levels) has been strikingly neglected, despite experimental results indicating that sediment dissolution might be more sensitive to ocean acidification (OA) than calcification. Dissolution of carbonate sediments could impact net reef accretion rates as well as the formation and preservation of valuable marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Bulk sediment dissolution rates of samples from the Bermuda carbonate platform were measured in natural seawater at pCO2 values ranging from approximately 3500 μatm to 9000 μatm. This range of pCO2 levels incorporates values currently observed in porewaters on the Bermuda carbonate platform as well as a potential future increase in porewater pCO2 levels due to OA. Sediment samples from two different stations on the reef platform were analyzed for grain size and mineralogy. Dissolution rates of sediments in the dominant grain size fraction of the platform (500-1000 μm) from both stations ranged between 16.25 and 47.19 (± 0.27 to 0.79) μmoles g-1 hr-1 and are comparable to rates previously obtained from laboratory experiments on other natural carbonate sediments. At a pCO2 of 3500 μatm, rates from both samples were similar, despite their differing mineralogy. However, at pCO2 levels above 3500 μatm, the sediment sample with a greater weight percent of Mg-calcite had slightly higher dissolution rates. Despite many laboratory studies on biogenic carbonate dissolution, a significant disparity still exists between laboratory measurements and field observations. Performing additional controlled, laboratory experiments on natural sediment may help to elucidate the reasons for this disparity.