Physico-chemical controls on phosphorus cycling in two lowland streams. Part 2 - The sediment phase

D. J. Evans, P. J. Johnes, D. S. Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates the temporal and spatial controls on sediment-phosphorus (P) dynamics in two contrasting sub-catchments of the River Kennet, England. Suspended sediment (collected under representative flow conditions) and size-fractionated bedload (collected weekly for one year) from the Rivers Lambourn and Enborne was analysed for a range of physico-chemical determinands. Total P concentrations were highest in the most mobile fractions of sediment: suspended sediment, fine silt and clay and organic matter (mean concentrations of 1758, 1548 and 1440 mug P g(-1) dry sediment, respectively). Correlation analysis showed significant relationships between total P and total iron (n = 110), total manganese (n = 110), organic matter (n = 110) and specific surface area (n = 28) in the Lambourn (r(2) 0.71, 0.68, 0.62 and 0.52, respectively) and between total P and total iron (n = 110), total manganese (n = 110) and organic matter (n = 110) in the Enborne (r(2) 0.74, 0.85 and 0.68, respectively). These data highlight the importance of metal oxyhydroxide adsorption of P on fine particulates and organic matter. However, high total P concentrations in the granule gravel and coarse sand size fraction during the summer period (mean concentration 228 mug P g(-1) dry sediment) also highlight the role of calcite co-precipitation on P dynamics in the Lambourn. P to cation ratios in Lambourn sediment indicated that fine silt and clay and granule gravel and coarse sand size fractions were potential sources of P release to the water column during specific periods of the summer and autumn. In the Enborne, however, only the granule gravel and coarse sand size fraction had high ratios and a slow, constant release of P was observed. In addition, scanning electron microscopy work confirmed the association of P with calcite in the Lambourn and P with iron on clay particles in the Enborne. The study highlighted the importance of the chemical and physical properties of the sediment in influencing the mechanisms controlling P storage and release within river channels. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)165-182
Number of pages18
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • phosphorus River Kennet River Lambourn River Enbome suspended sediment bedload sediment metal oxyhydroxide adsorption calcite phosphorus co-precipitation FINE-GRAINED SEDIMENT RIVER-BASINS TRANSPORT MATTER WATER UK ADSORPTION DYNAMICS IRON LAKE

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