Encyclopedia of Marine Geosciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Jan Harff, Martin Meschede, Sven Petersen, Jörn Thiede


  • Gerhard GrafEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6644-0_132-1


Bioturbation is the mixing and displacement of particles in marine and freshwater sediments caused by benthic fauna mainly during foraging and the construction of burrows. As a result particulate proxies and microfossils such as tests of foraminifera deposited at the seafloor may not be found in the time slice corresponding to its deposition, and the interpretation of the geological record can be hampered. Other effects of animal activity, such as biodeposition and bioresuspension, but also fluid transport will not be considered in this section although they are essential for biogeochemical cycles and are used as subprocesses of bioturbation in recent biological literature (cf. Kristensen et al. 2012).

Measurement and Modeling

In geological sciences, mainly natural radioactive tracers like 210Pb, 234Th, or 7Be but also chlorophyll a or stained sand grains have been used for a quantitative description. A basic equation for sediment mixing was provided by Berner ( 1980).


Organic Carbon Content Molecular Diffusion Time Slice Biogeochemical Cycle Radioactive Tracer 
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  1. Berner, R. A., 1980. Early Diagenesis: A Mathematical Approach. Princton: Princton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Boudreau, B. P., 1994. Is burial velocity a master parameter for bioturbation? Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 58, 1243–1249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Francois, F., Gerino, M., Stora, G., Durbec, J.-P., and Poggiale, J.-C., 2002. Functional approach to sediment reworking by gallery-forming macrobenthic organisms: modeling and application with the polychaete Nereis diversicolor. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 229, 127–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kristensen, E., Penha-Lopes, G., Delefosse, M., Valdemarsen, T., Quintana, C. O., and Banta, G. T., 2012. What is bioturbation? The need for a precise definition for fauna in aquatic sciences. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 446, 285–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Biological SciencesUniversity of RostockRostockGermany