Calcium Carbonate and Temperature as Tools for Manipulation of Coastal Sediment Acidification: A Laboratory Study
International Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Analysis
Volume 7, Issue 6, December 2019, Pages: 118-127
Received: Oct. 20, 2019; Accepted: Nov. 11, 2019; Published: Dec. 2, 2019
Views 523      Downloads 161
Brian Matthew Prezoisi, School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine, Orono, the United States
Timothy James Bowden, School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine, Orono, the United States
Aria Amirbahman, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, the United States
Article Tools
Follow on us
The spread of low-pH sediments (also known as dead muds) has brought about the need for laboratory studies involving acidified sediment. CO2 bubbling is traditionally used to acidify the sediment; however, allowing the native sediment bacteria to do the acidification is a more natural approach. The objective of the current study was to test if the surface sediment could be acidified using the sediment bacteria and determine how long the sediment chemistry stayed stable for. The pH of sediment taken from near Dobbins Island in Beals, ME, was monitored in sediment containers distributed evenly among 20-gallon aquaria containing artificial seawater for 74 days. Half of these aquaria were kept at 6.5°C while the other half were kept at 24°C. Each sediment bed had a depth of 15 cm and had pore water samples taken via syringe at the top, middle and bottom of the sediment column every 2-3 days. Crushed razor clam (Ensis leei) shell was applied to half of these sediment beds on day 33. The results show surface sediment pore water chemistry can be kept at acidified conditions (~6.0 pH/ ~500 µmol kg-1 total alkalinity/ less than 0.04 aragonite saturation state) or ambient collection site conditions (~6.8 pH/ ~4000 µmol kg-1 total alkalinity/ 0.10-0.25 aragonite saturation state) for month-long periods by incubating the sediment in recirculating aquaria or applying crushed E. leei shell respectively. Higher temperatures reduce the incubation time needed to acidify the sediment but shorten the period the surface sediment remains at 6.0 pH for. Before using the method, researchers should run a preliminary experiment with a batch of the sediment they intend to use to insure the sediment acidification intensity and duration meets their needs.
Sediment Acidification, Laboratory Method, pH, Aragonite Saturation State
To cite this article
Brian Matthew Prezoisi, Timothy James Bowden, Aria Amirbahman, Calcium Carbonate and Temperature as Tools for Manipulation of Coastal Sediment Acidification: A Laboratory Study, International Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Analysis. Vol. 7, No. 6, 2019, pp. 118-127. doi: 10.11648/j.ijema.20190706.12
Copyright © 2019 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Green M. A., Gulnick J. D., Dowse N., et al. (2004). Spatiotemporal patterns of carbon remineralization and bio-irrigation in sediments of Casco Bay Estuary, Gulf of Maine. Limnology and Oceanography 49, 396–407.
Widdicombe S., Spicer J. I., Kitidis V. (2011). Effects of ocean acidification on sediment fauna. Ocean Acidification 16.
Pimenta A., Grear J. (2018). Guidelines for Measuring Changes in Seawater pH and Associated Carbonate Chemistry in Coastal Environments of the Eastern United States. US Office of Research and Development Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-17/483.
Clements J. C., Hunt H. L. (2018). Testing for Sediment Acidification Effects on Within-Season Variability in Juvenile Soft-Shell Clam (Mya arenaria) Abundance on the Northern Shore of the Bay of Fundy. Estuaries and Coasts 41, 471–483.
Friends of Casco Bay. 2013 Casco Bay clam flat pH study [Internet]. 2014. Available from:
Green M. A., Waldbusser GG, Reilly SL, et al. (2009). Death by dissolution: sediment saturation state as a mortality factor for juvenile bivalves. Limnology and Oceanography 54, 1037–1047.
Clements J. C., Woodard K. D., Hunt HL. (2016). Porewater acidification alters the burrowing behavior and post-settlement dispersal of juvenile soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 477, 103–111.
Waldbusser G. G., Hales B., Haley B. A. (2016). Calcium carbonate saturation state: on myths and this or that stories. ICES Journal of Marine Sciences 73, 563–568.
Cohen A. L., Holcomb M. (2009). Why Corals Care About Ocean Acidification: Uncovering the Mechanism. Oceanography 22, 118–127.
Palmer A. R. (1992). Calcification in marine molluscs: how costly is it? PNAS 89, 1379–1382.
Pan T-C. F., Applebaum S. L., Manahan D. T. (2015). Experimental ocean acidification alters the allocation of metabolic energy. PNAS 112, 4696-4701.
Clements J. C., Hunt H. L. (2014). Influence of sediment acidification and water flow on sediment acceptance and dispersal of juvenile soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria L.). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 453, 62–69.
Waldbusser G., Bergschneider H., Green M. (2010). Size-dependent pH effect on calcification in post-larval hard clam Mercenaria spp. Marine Ecology Progress Series 417, 171–182.
Rodríguez-Romero A., Jiménez-Tenorio N, Basallote M. D., et al. (2014). Predicting the Impacts of CO2 Leakage from Subseabed Storage: Effects of Metal Accumulation and Toxicity on the Model Benthic Organism Ruditapes philippinarum. Environmental Science & Technology 48, 12292–12301.
Leavitt D. Biology of the Atlantic Jackknife (Razor) Clam (Ensis directus Conrad, 1843) [Internet]. Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center; 2010. Available from:
Clements J. C., Hunt H. L. (2017). Effects of CO2 -driven sediment acidification on infaunal marine bivalves: A synthesis. Marine Pollution Bulletin 117, 6–16.
Dickson A. G., Sabine C. L., Christian J. R. Guide to Best Practices for Ocean CO2 Measurements. [Internet]. North Pacific Marine Science Organization; 2007 [cited 2018 Sep 18]. Available from:
Riebesell U., Fabry V. J., Hansson L., et al. Guide to best practices for ocean acidification research and data reporting [Internet]. Riebesell U, Fabry VJ, Hansson L, et al., editors. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities; 2011 [cited 2018 Sep 18]. Available from:
Green M. A., Waldbusser G. G., Hubazc L., et al. (2013). Carbonate Mineral Saturation State as the Recruitment Cue for Settling Bivalves in Marine Muds. Estuaries and Coasts 36, 18–27.
Greiner C. M., Klinger T., Ruesink J. L., et al. (2018). Habitat effects of macrophytes and shell on carbonate chemistry and juvenile clam recruitment, survival, and growth. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 509, 8–15.
Cubillas P, Köhler S, Prieto M, et al. (2005). Experimental determination of the dissolution rates of calcite, aragonite, and bivalves. Chemical Geology 216, 59–77.
Areibat L. E. M., Kamari A. (2017). Razor clam (Ensis directus) shell as a low-cost adsorbent for the removal of Congo red and Rhodamine B dyes from aqueous solution. AIP Conference Proceedings 1847.
Drupp P. S., De Carlo E. H., Mackenzie F. T. (2016). Porewater CO2–carbonic acid system chemistry in permeable carbonate reef sands. Marine Chemistry 185, 48–64.
Ries J. B. (2011). Skeletal mineralogy in a high-CO2 world. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 403, 54–64.
López G. I. Grain Size Analysis. In: Gilbert AS, editor. Encyclopedia of Geoarchaeology [Internet]. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2017 [cited 2018 Dec 28]. p. 341–348. Available from:
Wentworth C. K. (1922). A Scale of Grade and Class Terms for Clastic Sediments. The Journal of Geology 30, 377–392.
Heiri O., Lotter A. F., Lemcke G. (2001). Loss on ignition as a method for estimating organic and carbonate content in sediments: reproducibility and comparability of results. Journal of Paleolimnolpgy 25.
Millero F. J. (2010). Carbonate constants for estuarine waters. Marine and Freshwater Research 61, 139–142.
Pomeroy L., Wiebe W. (2001). Temperature and substrates as interactive limiting factors for marine heterotrophic bacteria. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 23, 187–204.
Soetaert K., Hofmann A. F., Middelburg J. J., et al. (2007). The effect of biogeochemical processes on pH. Marine Chemistry, 105: 30–51.
Widdicombe S., Dashfield S. L., McNeill C. L., et al. (2009). Effects of CO2 induced seawater acidification on infaunal diversity and sediment nutrient fluxes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 379, 59–75.
Whitworth K. L., Silvester E., Baldwin D. S. (2014). Alkalinity capture during microbial sulfate reduction and implications for the acidification of inland aquatic ecosystems. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 130, 113–125.
Arnosti C., Jørgensen B., Sagemann J., et al. (1998). Temperature dependence of microbial degradation of organic matter in marine sediments: polysaccharide hydrolysis, oxygen consumption, and sulfate reduction. Marine Ecology Progress Series 165, 59–70.
Clements J. C., Bishop M. M., Hunt H. L. (2017). Elevated temperature has adverse effects on GABA-mediated avoidance behaviour to sediment acidification in a wide-ranging marine bivalve. Marine Biology 164.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186