, Volume 235, Issue 1, pp 731–743 | Cite as

Iron:phosphorus ratio in surface sediment as an indicator of phosphate release from aerobic sediments in shallow lakes

  • H. S. Jensen
  • P. Kristensen
  • E. Jeppesen
  • A. Skytthe


Analysis of Danish lakes showed that both mean winter and mean summer concentrations of lake water total phosphorus in the trophogenic zone correlated negatively with the total iron to total phosphorus ratio (Fe:P) in surface sediments. No correlation was found between the water total phosphorus concentration and either the sediment phosphorus concentration alone or with sediment calcium concentration. The increase in total phosphorus from winter to summer, which is partly a function of net internal P-loading, was lowest in lakes with high Fe:P ratios in the surface sediment.

A study of aerobic sediments from fifteen lakes, selected as representative of Danish lakes with respect to the sediment Fe and phosphorus content, showed that the release of soluble reactive phosphorus was negatively correlated with the surface sediment Fe:P ratio. Analysis of phosphate adsorption properties of surface sediment from 12 lakes revealed that the capability of aerobic sediments to buffer phosphate concentration correlated with the Fe:P ratio while the maximum adsorption capacity correlated with total iron. Thus, the Fe:P ratio may provide a measure of free sorption sites for orthophosphate ions on iron hydroxyoxide surfaces.

The results indicate that provided the Fe:P ratio is above 15 (by weight) it may be possible to control internal P-loading by keeping the surface sediment oxidized. Since the Fe:P ratio is easy to measure, it may be a useful tool in the management of shallow lakes.

Key words

Lakes sediments iron phosphorus phosphate release 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. S. Jensen
    • 1
  • P. Kristensen
    • 2
  • E. Jeppesen
    • 2
  • A. Skytthe
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of BiologyUniversity of OdenseOdense M.Denmark
  2. 2.Division of Freshwater EcologyNational Environment Research Institute (NERI)SilkeborgDenmark

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