Characterization of the benthic biogeochemical dynamics after flood events in the Rhône River prodelta: the data-set

At the land-sea interface, the benthic carbon cycle is strongly influenced by the export of terrigenous particulate material across the river-ocean continuum. Episodic flood events delivering massive sedimentary materials can occur, but their short-term impact on carbon cycling is poorly understood. In this paper, we use a coupled data-model approach to estimate the temporal variations of sediment-water fluxes, biogeochemical pathways and their reaction rates during these abrupt phenomena. We studied one episodic depositional event in the vicinity of the Rhône River mouth (NW Mediterranean Sea) during the fall-winter of 2021-2022. The distribution of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), sulfate (SO42-) and methane (CH4) were measured in sediment porewater collected every 2 weeks before and after the deposition of a 25 cm sediment layer during the main winter flood event. Significant changes in the distribution of DIC, SO42- and CH4, concentrations were observed in the sediment porewaters. The use of an early diagenetic model (FESDIA) to calculate biogeochemical reaction rates and fluxes revealed that this type of flooding event can increase the total organic carbon mineralization rate in the sediment by 75% a few days after deposition, essentially by increasing the sulfate reduction contribution to total mineralization relative to non-flood depositional period. It predicts a short-term decrease of the DIC flux out of the sediment from 100 to 55 mmol m-2 d-1 after the deposition of the new sediment layer with a longer-term increase by 4%, therefore implying an initial internal storage of DIC in the newly deposited layer and a slow release over relaxation of the system. Furthermore, examination of the stoichiometric ratios of DIC and SO42- as well as model output over this five-months window shows a decoupling between the two modes of sulfate reduction following the deposition - organoclastic sulfate reduction (OSR) intensified in the newly deposited layer below the sediment surface, whereas anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) intensified at depth below the former buried surface. This depth-wise bifurcation of both pathways of sulfate reduction in the sediment column is clearly related to the deepening of the sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ) by 25 cm after the flood deposition. Our findings highlight the significance of short-term transient biogeochemical processes at the seafloor and provide new insights on the benthic carbon cycle in the coastal ocean.


Chemical oceanography


River delta, floods, sediment, carbon remineralization


43.429897N, 43.273118S, 4.939452E, 4.622222W


data_set_AMORSB 2021-2022- Pore water
10 KoCSVQuality controlled data
data_set_AMORSB 2021-2022-location
483 octetsCSVQuality controlled data
data_set_AMORSB 2021-2022-Organic carbon
271 octetsCSVQuality controlled data
data_set_AMORSB 2021-2022- Be7
959 octetsCSVQuality controlled data
How to cite
Ferreira Eva, Nmor Stanley, Viollier Eric, Lansard Bruno, Bombled Bruno, Regnier Edouard, Monvoisin Gaël, Grenz Christian, Van Beek Pieter, Rabouille Christophe (2021). Characterization of the benthic biogeochemical dynamics after flood events in the Rhône River prodelta: the data-set. SEANOE.

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