Recently introduced techniques that can provide two-dimensional images of solution concentrations in sediments for multiple analytes have revealed discrete sites of geochemical behaviour different from the average for that depth (microniches). We have developed a new preparation method for a binding phase, incorporated in a hydrogel, for the diffusive gradients in thin-films (DGT) technique. It allows co-analysis of sulphide and the reactive forms of phosphorus, vanadium and arsenic in the porewaters at the surface of the device. This gel, when dried and analysed using laser ablation mass spectrometry, allows the acquisition of high-resolution, sub-millimetre-scale, data. The binding phase was deployed within a DGT device in a sediment core collected from a productive lake, Esthwaite Water (UK). Localized removal from the porewaters of the sediment for phosphate and vanadium has been demonstrated at a microniche of local sulphide production. The possible removal processes, including bacterial uptake and reduction of vanadate to insoluble VIII by sulphide, are discussed. Understanding processes occurring at this scale may allow improved prediction of pollutant fate and better prediction of past climates where trace metals are used as paleoredox proxies.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Environmental Chemsitry, 5 (2), 2008, © CSIRO 2008