The benthic mat in the ponds of solar salt producers is important because as a beneficial effect, the mat reduces loss of brine from the field but it unfortunately also supports species which can have a serious detrimental effect on the halite crystallization process. Anaerobic and aerobic activity of the mat which is thought to be a significant factor in the management of the salt field is not quantified by traditional monitoring methods. A method of measuring the generation of oxygen from benthic algal mats, tested in the north west of Western Australia at three solar salt fields has been developed to estimate the benthic primary production in solar salt fields. Net oxygen production peaks at approximately 1 g m-2 over a 24 hour period for salt fields in the north-west of Western Australia. There was a significant linear relationship between production and salinity. Maximum production was 100 mmol O2 m-2 day-1 and the minimum was -11 mmol O2 m-2 day-1. The average oxygen production in ponds with a normal salinity within the range of 115-250 g 1-1 was 13 mmol O2 m-2 day-1. The relationship between dissolved oxygen demand at night versus salinity was not significant.
Coleman, Mark U.
"Oxygen production and use in benthic mats of solar salt ponds,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues:
Vol. 15, Article 47.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol15/iss1/47