, Volume 104, Issue 1–3, pp 69–90 | Cite as

Field measurements and modeling of groundwater flow and biogeochemistry at Moses Hammock, a backbarrier island on the Georgia coast

  • W. P. Porubsky
  • S. B. JoyeEmail author
  • W. S. Moore
  • K. Tuncay
  • C. MeileEmail author


A combination of field measurements, laboratory experiments and model simulations were used to characterize the groundwater biogeochemical dynamics along a shallow monitoring well transect on a coastal hammock. A switch in the redox status of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) pool in the well at the upland/saltmarsh interface occurred over the spring-neap tidal transition: the DIN pool was dominated by nitrate during spring tide and by ammonium during neap tide. A density-dependent reaction-transport model was used to investigate the relative importance of individual processes to the observed N redox-switch. The observed N redox-switch was evaluated with regard to the roles of nitrification, denitrification, dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA), ammonium adsorption, and variations in inflowing water geochemistry between spring and neap tides. Transport was driven by measured pressure heads and process parameterizations were derived from field observations, targeted laboratory experiments, and the literature. Modeling results suggest that the variation in inflow water chemistry was the dominant driver of DIN dynamics and highlight the importance of spring-neap tide variations in the high marsh, which influences groundwater biogeochemistry at the marsh-upland transition.


Hammock groundwater Nitrogen cycle Upland-marsh transition Spring-neap tide cycle Reaction transport modeling 



We thank C. Ruppel for installation of the well transect at Moses Hammock, and M. Erickson and N. Weston for assistance in the field and in the laboratory. This publication was supported by the Georgia Sea Grant Program of the National Sea Grant College, NOAA; under NOAA Grant NA04OAR4170033 (to CM), NA06RG0029-R/WQ11 and R/WQ12A (to SBJ) and by the NSF funded Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program (OCE 99-82133 and OCE 06-20959). Comments from two anonymous reviewers improved the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine SciencesThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geological SciencesThe University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringMiddle East Technical University NCCMersin 10Turkey

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