, Volume 661, Issue 1, pp 21–35 | Cite as

Effects of a modified zeolite on P and N processes and fluxes across the lake sediment–water interface using core incubations

  • Max GibbsEmail author
  • Deniz Özkundakci


A new locally produced P-inactivation agent, Z2G1, was tested on sediment cores from Lake Okaro, New Zealand, for phosphorus (P) removal efficacy and any non-target side effects prior to a whole lake trial to manage internal P loading. Z2G1 is a granular product which settles rapidly, and was designed as a sediment capping material. It is a modified zeolite which acts as a carrier for the aluminium (Al)-based P-binding agent. It was found to have a high affinity for P and did not release Al into the water column. Continuous-flow incubation study results showed that a thin layer of Z2G1 (~2 mm) could completely block the release of P from the sediment under aerobic and anoxic conditions, and remove P from the overlying water in contact with the capping layer. The Z2G1 capping layer neither released metals itself nor did it induce the release of metals from the sediments, and the zeolite substrate absorbed arsenic and mercury from the geothermally influenced Lake Okaro sediments. In general, zeolites are strong cation absorbers and the zeolite substrate of Z2G1 absorbed ammoniacal nitrogen, making it the only sediment capping material to actively remove both P and N. There were, however, indications of a suppression effect on microbial denitrification by the Z2G1 capping layer under aerobic conditions. Overall, the Z2G1 sediment capping material is a highly effective P-inactivation agent which might be a useful material for managing internal P loads in eutrophic lakes.


Internal load P-inactivation agent Sediment capping Lake restoration Modified zeolite Phosphorus Nitrogen Lake Okaro 



We thank Scion (Rotorua) and Blue Pacific Minerals (Matamata, New Zealand) for making their product available for testing, D. Hamilton, University of Waikato, NZ, M. McCarthy, University of Texas, USA, for valuable discussion on the use of the continuous-flow incubation system, S. Dudli for assistance with the sediment collection and time series water sampling, and two unnamed reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. This study was funded by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST) contract CO1X0305, ‘Restoration of aquatic ecosystems’ and Environment Bay of Plenty under their programme for restoration of the Rotorua Lakes.


  1. Berg, U., D. Donnert, U. Markert, T. Neumann & K. Wurm, 2003. Influences of in-lake processes on a calcite cover for increased phosphorus retention. Wasser Boden 4: 19–24.Google Scholar
  2. Berg, U., T. Neumann, D. Donnert, R. Nüsch & D. Stüben, 2004. Sediment capping in eutrophic lakes: efficiency of undisturbed barriers to immobilize phosphorus. Applied Geochemistry 19: 1759–1771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burger, D. F., D. P. Hamilton, C. P. Pilditch & M. M. Gibbs, 2007. Benthic nutrient fluxes in a eutrophic, polymictic lake. Hydrobiologia 584: 13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burns, N. M., 2001. Trophic Level Index baselines and trends for 12 Rotorua District lakes, 1990–2000. Lakes Consultancy Report 2001/2, May.Google Scholar
  5. Carvalho, L., S. Maberly, L. May, C. Reynolds, M. Hughes, R. Brazier, L. Heathwaite, S. Lui, J. Hilton, D. Hornby, H. Benion, A. Elliott, N. Wilby, R. Dils, G. Phillips, L. Pope, & I. Fozzard, 2005. Risk assessment methodology for determining nutrient impacts in surface freshwater bodies. Report to the Environment Agency. Science Report SCO20029/SR. 220 p.Google Scholar
  6. Cooke, D. G., E. B. Welch, S. A. Peterson & S. A. Nichols, 2005. Restoration and Management of Lakes and Reservoirs. CRC Press, Boca Raton: 616.Google Scholar
  7. Douglas, G. B., M. S. Robb & P. W. Ford, 2008. Reassessment of the performance of mineral-based sediment capping materials to bind phosphorus: a comment on Akhurst et al. (2004). Marine and Freshwater Research 59: 836–837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Downes, M., 1988. Aquatic nitrogen transformations at low oxygen concentrations. Applied Environmental Microbiology 54: 172–175.Google Scholar
  9. Dryden, S. J. & W. F. Vincent, 1986. Phytoplankton species of Lake Okaro, Central North Island. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 20: 191–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Edgar, N. B., 2009. Icon lakes in New Zealand: Managing the tension between land development and water resource protection. Society and Natural Resources 22: 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Enell, M. & S. Löfgren, 1988. Phosphorus in interstitial water: methods and dynamics. Hydrobiologia 170: 103–132.Google Scholar
  12. Environment Bay of Plenty, 2006. Lake Okaro Action Plan. Environmental Publication 2006/03: 53 p.Google Scholar
  13. Forsyth, D. J., S. J. Dryden, M. R. James & W. F. Vincent, 1988. The Lake Okaro ecosystem 1. Background limnology. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 22: 17–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gächter, R. & B. Müller, 2003. Why the phosphorus retention of lakes does not necessarily depend on the oxygen supply to their sediment surface. Limnology and Oceanography 48: 929–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heggie, D. T., G. A. Logan, C. S. Smith, D. J. Fredericks & D. Palmer, 2008. Biogeochemical processes at the sediment–water interface, Bombah Broadwater, Myall Lakes. Hydrobiologia 608: 49–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hickey, C. W. & M. M. Gibbs, 2009. Lake sediment phosphorus release management – decision support and risk assessment framework. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 819–856.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Himmelheber, D. W., M. Taillefert, K. D. Pennell & J. B. Hughes, 2008. Spatial and temporal evolution of biogeochemical processes following insitu capping of contaminated sediments. Environmental Science and Technology 42: 4113–4120.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Jensen, J. P., E. Jeppesen, P. Kristensen, P. B. Christensen & M. Søndergaard, 1992. Nitrogen loss and denitrification as studied in relation to reductions in nitrogen loading in a shallow, hypertrophic lake (Lake Søbygård, Denmark). Internationale Revue der gesamten Hydrobiologie und Hydrographie 77: 29–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kirk, K. L. & J. J. Gilbert, 1990. Suspended clay and the population dynamics of planktonic rotifers and cladocerans. Ecology 71: 1741–1755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lewis, W. M. & W. A. Wurtsbaugh, 2008. Control of lacustrine phytoplankton by nutrients: erosion of the phosphorus paradigm. International Review of Hydrobiology 93(4–5): 446–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McCarthy, M. J., W. S. Gardner, P. J. Lavrentyev, K. M. Moats, F. J. Jochem & D. M. Klarer, 2007. Effects of hydrological flow regime on sediment-water interface and water column nitrogen dynamics in a Great Lakes coastal wetland (Old Woman Creek, Lake Erie). Journal of Great Lakes Research 33: 219–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Miller-Way, T. & R. Twilley, 1996. Theory and operation of continuous flow systems for the study of benthic-pelagic coupling. Marine Ecology: Progress Series 140: 257–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Molot, L. A. & P. J. Dillon, 1993. Nitrogen mass balances and denitrification rates in central Ontario Lakes. Biogeochemistry 20: 195–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mortimer, C. H., 1971. Chemical exchanges between sediments and water in the Great Lakes – speculations on probable regulatory mechanisms. Limnology and Oceanography 16: 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nguyen, L. & C. Tanner, 1998. Ammonium removal from wastewaters using natural New Zealand zeolites. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 41: 427–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, 2006. Restoring the Rotorua Lakes: the ultimate endurance challenge. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Wellington: 50 p.Google Scholar
  27. Paul, W. J., D. P. Hamilton & M. M. Gibbs, 2008. Low-dose alum application trialled as a management tool for internal nutrient loads in Lake Okaro, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 42: 207–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Penn, M. R., M. T. Auer, S. M. Doerr, C. T. Driscoll, C. M. Brooks & S. W. Effler, 2000. Seasonality in phosphorus release rates from the sediments of a hypereutrophic lake under a matrix of pH and redox conditions. Canada Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 57: 1033–1041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Perkins, R. G. & G. J. C. Underwood, 2001. The potential for phosphorus release across the sediment-water interface in an eutrophic reservoir dosed with ferric sulphate. Water Research 35: 1399–1406.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Robb, M., B. Greenop, Z. Goss, G. Douglas & J. A. Adeney, 2003. Application of Phoslock, an innovative phosphorus binding clay, to two Western Australian waterways: preliminary findings. Hydrobiologia 494: 237–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schindler, D. W., R. E. Hecky, D. L. Findlay, et al., 2008. Eutrophication of lakes cannot be controlled by reducing nitrogen input: results of a 37-year whole-ecosystem experiment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 11254–11258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Smolders, A. J. P., L. P. M. Lamers, E. C. H. E. T. Lucasseu, G. van der Velde & J. G. M. Roelops, 2006. Internal eutrophication: how it works and what to do about it – a review. Chemistry and Ecology 22: 93–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Søndergaard, M., J. P. Jensen & E. Jeppesen, 2003. Role of sediment and internal loading of phosphorus in shallow lakes. Hydrobiologia 506: 135–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Spears, B. M., L. Carvalho & D. M. Paterson, 2007. Phosphorus partitioning in a shallow lake: implications for water quality management. Water and Environment Journal 21: 47–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tanner, C. C., K. Caldwell, D. Ray & J. McIntosh, 2007. Constructing wetlands to treat nutrient-rich inflows to Lake Okaro, Rotorua. New Zealand Water and Wastes Association 5th Annual South Pacific Stormwater Conference: 17p.Google Scholar
  36. Timperley, M. H., 1983. Phosphorus in the spring waters of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand. Chemical Geology 38: 287–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Timperley, M. H. & R. J. Vigor-Brown, 1986. Water chemistry of lakes in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 20: 173–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Trolle, D., D. P. Hamilton, C. Hendy & C. Pilditch, 2008. Sediment and nutrient accumulation rates in sediments of twelve New Zealand lakes: influence of lake morphology, catchment characteristics and trophic state. Marine and Freshwater Research 59: 1067–1078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vopel, K., M. Gibbs, C. W. Hickey & J. Quinn, 2008. Modification of sediment–water solute exchange by sediment-capping agents: effects on O2 and pH. Marine and Freshwater Research 59: 1101–1110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Welch, E. B. & G. D. Cooke, 1999. Effectiveness and longevity of phosphorus inactivation with alum. Lake and Reservoir Management 15: 5–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wen, D., Y. Ho & T. Xiaoyan, 2006. Comparative sorption kinetic studies of ammonium onto zeolite. Journal of Hazardous Materials 133: 252–256.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. White, E., B. J. Don, M. T. Downes, L. J. Kemp, A. L. MacKenzie & G. W. Payne, 1978. Sediments of Lake Rotorua as sources and sinks for plant nutrients. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 12: 121–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yamada, H., M. Kayama, K. Saito & M. Hara, 1987. Suppression of phosphate liberation from sediment by using iron slag. Water Research 21: 325–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research LtdHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology and Biodiversity ResearchUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations