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Remobilisation of uranium from contaminated freshwater sediments by bioturbation

Abstract : Previous studies have demonstrated that benthic macro-invertebrate bioturbation can influence the remobilization of uranium initially associated with freshwater sediments resulting in a high release of this pollutant through the overlying water column. Giving the potential negative effects on aquatic biocenosis and the global ecological risk, it appeared crucial to improve our current knowledge concerning the uranium biogeochemical behaviour in sediments. The present study aimed to assess the biogeochemical modifications induced by Tubifex tubifex (Annelida, Clitellata, Tubificidae) bioturbation within the sediment permitting to explain such a release of uranium. To reach this goal, uranium distribution between solid and solute phases of a reconstructed benthic system (i.e. in mesocosms) inhabited or not by T. tubifex worms was assessed in a 12 day laboratory experiment. Thanks notably to fine resolution (mm-scale) measurements (e.g. DET gels probes for porewater, bioaccumulation in worms) of uranium and main chemical species (iron, sulfate, nitrate, nitrite), this work permitted (i) to confirm that the removal of bottom sediment particles to the surface through the digestive tract of worms greatly favours the oxidative loss of uranium in the water column, and (ii) to demonstrate that both uranium contamination and bioturbation of T. tubifex substantially influence major microbial-driven biogeochemical reactions in sediments (e.g. stimulation of denitrification, sulfate-reduction and iron dissolutive reduction). This study provides the first demonstration of biogeochemical modifications induced by bioturbation in freshwater uranium-contaminated sediments.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 2:41:41 PM
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Sandra Lagauzère, Mikael Motelica-Heino, Eric Viollier, G. Stora, J.M. Bonzom. Remobilisation of uranium from contaminated freshwater sediments by bioturbation. Biogeosciences Discussions, European Geosciences Union, 2014, 10, pp.17001-17041. ⟨insu-01064933⟩

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