, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 1033–1040 | Cite as

The effect of groundwater seepage on nutrient delivery and seagrass distribution in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico

  • Christine M. Rutkowski
  • William C. Burnett
  • Richard L. Iverson
  • Jeffrey P. Chanton


A hypothesis was tested to determine if a relationship exists between rates of submarine groundwater discharge and the distribution of seagrass beds in the coastal, nearshore northeastern Gulf of Mexico. As determined by nonparametric statistics, four of seven seagrass beds in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico had significantly greater submarine groundwater discharge compared with adjacent sandy areas, but the remainder exhibited the opposite relationship. We were thus unable to verify if a relationship exists between submarine groundwater discharge and the distribution of seagrass beds in the nearshore sites selected. A second objective of this study was to determine the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus delivered to nearshore areas by submarine groundwater discharge. We considered new nutrient inputs to be delivered to surface waters by the upward flux of fresh water. This upward flux of water encounters saline porewaters in the surficial sediments and these porewaters contain recycled nutrients; actual nutrient flux from the sediment to overlying waters includes both new and recycled nutrients. New inputs of nitrogen to overlying surface waters for one 10-km section of coastline, calculated by multiplying groundwater nutrient concentrations from freshwater wells by measured seepage rates, were on the order of 1,100±190 mol N d−1. New and recycled nitrogen fluxes, calculated by multiplying surficial porewater concentrations by measured seepage rates, yielded fluxes of 3,600 ±1,000 mol N d−1. Soluble reactive phosphate values were 150±40 mol P d−1 using freshwater well concentrations and 130±3.0 mol P d−1 using porewater concentrations. These values are comparable to the average nutrient delivery of a small, local river.


Hydrogen Sulfide Submarine Groundwater Discharge Recycle Nutrient Groundwater Flux Soluble Reactive Phosphate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine M. Rutkowski
    • 1
  • William C. Burnett
    • 1
  • Richard L. Iverson
    • 1
  • Jeffrey P. Chanton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of OceanographyFlorida State UniversityTallahassee

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