Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Temporal and vertical distribution of total ammonia nitrogen and un-ionized ammonia nitrogen in sediment pore water from the upper Mississippi River
Frazier, B. E., Naimo, T. J., and Sandheinrich, M. B., 1996, Temporal and vertical distribution of total ammonia nitrogen and un-ionized ammonia nitrogen in sediment pore water from the upper Mississippi River: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 15, no. 2, p. 92-99.
We examined the temporal and vertical distribution of total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) and un-ionized ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N) in sediment pore water and compared the temporal patterns of TAN and NH3-N concentrations in overlying surface water with those in pore water. Pore water was obtained by core extraction and subsequent centrifugation. We measured TAN concentrations and calculated NH3-N concentrations from February through October 1993 at four sites in Pool 8, upper Mississippi River, at depths of 0 to 4, 4 to 8, and 8 to 12 cm below the sediment-water interface. Total ammonia nitrogen and NH3-N concentrations were significantly different among sampling dates (p = 0.0001) and sediment depths (p = 0.0001). Concentrations of TAN and NH3-N in surface water were significantly less than those in pore water from all sediment depths (p < 0.05). Concentrations in pore water ranged from 0.07 to 4.0 mg TAN/L and less than 1 to 20 mu g NH3-N/L in winter, and from 0.07 to 10.0 mg TAN/L and 1 to 175 mu g NH3-N/L in summer; greatest concentrations were usually found in sediments 8 to 12 cm deep. Annual mean TAN concentrations were positively correlated with silt and volatile solids content and were negatively correlated with sand content. Because of the high variability of TAN and NH3-N concentrations in pore water, sediment toxicity studies should take into account the season and the depth at which sediments are obtained. The annual mean NH3-N concentration in pore water at one site (55 mu g/L) exceeded the concentration (30 mu g/L) demonstrated to inhibit growth of fingernail clams in laboratory studies. However, these concentrations apparently were not lethal, as evidenced by the presence of fingernail clams at this site.
Keywords: ammonia, pore water, sediments, Mississippi Rivers, Lower Fox River, green bay, toxicity, quality, transformations, mineralization, temperature, Wisconsin, flow, pH