Document Type


Publication Date

January 1975


Sixteen sediment-water microcosms designed to allow complete gas, liquid, and solid mass balances of gases, nutrients, and mercury were studies under dark conditions or varying light intensity for a period of 189 days. Results indicated that the microcosm technique is a very sensitive method of analyzing microbial dynamics in sediment water systems. Gas quantity and composition changes were easy to monitor and were especially sensitive to light and nutrient variations. Nitrogen fixation occurred in all lighted systems (blue-green algae nitrogen fixers, Anabaena, and others) and was adequate to insure that no nitrogen limitation occurred even though nitrogen limitation was imposed on the system. Sediments apparently did not act as a significant source of nitrogen. Iron and phosphorus were in excess and as such were closely linked as would be predicted on the basis of chemical equilibria. Non-equilibrium chemical behavior of such elements would apparently result only when appreciable amounts of the compound or element is utilized in growth.