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Alteration of the Copper-Binding Capacity of Iron-Rich Humic Colloids during Transport from Peatland to Marine Waters

Muller, François L. L., Cuscov, Marco
Environmental Science & Technology 2017 v.51 no.6 pp. 3214-3222
binding capacity, bogs, carbon, chelating agents, colloids, copper, dissolved organic matter, humic substances, iron, ligands, peat soils, peatlands, rivers, salinity, seasonal variation, watersheds
Blanket bogs contain vast amounts of Sphagnum-derived organic substances which can act as powerful chelators for dissolved iron and thus enhance its export to the coastal ocean. To investigate the variations in quantity and quality of these exports, adsorptive cathodic stripping voltammetry (CSV) was used to characterize the metal binding properties of molecular weight-fractionated dissolved organic matter (MW-fractionated DOM) in the catchment and coastal plume of a small peat-draining river over a seasonal cycle. Within the plume, both iron- and copper-binding organic ligands showed a linear, conservative distribution with increasing salinity, illustrating the high stability of peatland-derived humic substances (HS). Within the catchment, humic colloids lost up to 50% of their copper-binding capacity, expressed as a molar ratio to organic carbon, after residing for 1 week or more in the main reservoir of the catchment. Immediately downstream of the reservoir, the molar ratio [L₂]/[Cₒᵣg], where L₂ was the second strongest copper-binding ligand, was 0.75 × 10–⁴ when the reservoir residence time was 5 h but 0.34 × 10–⁴ when it was 25 days. Residence time did not affect the carbon specific iron-binding capacity of the humic substances which was [L]/[Cₒᵣg] = (0.80 ± 0.20) × 10–². Our results suggest that the loss of copper-binding capacity with increasing residence time is caused by intracolloidal interactions between iron and HS during transit from peat soil to river mouth.