Non-conservative behavior of fluorescent dissolved organic matter (FDOM) within a subterranean estuary

Document Type


Publication details

Suryaputra, IGNA, Santos, IR, Huettel, M, Burnett, WC & Dittmar, T 2015, 'Non-conservative behavior of fluorescent dissolved organic matter (FDOM) within a subterranean estuary', Continental Shelf Research, vol. 110, pp. 183-190.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



The role of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) in releasing fluorescent dissolved organic matter (FDOM) to the coastal ocean and the possibility of using FDOM as a proxy for dissolved organic carbon (DOC) was investigated in a subterranean estuary in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico (Turkey Point, Florida). FDOM was continuously monitored for three weeks in shallow beach groundwater and in the adjacent coastal ocean. Radon (222Rn) was used as a natural groundwater tracer. FDOM and DOC correlated in groundwater and seawater samples, implying that FDOM may be a proxy of DOC in waters influenced by SGD. A mixing model using salinity as a seawater tracer revealed FDOM production in the high salinity region of the subterranean estuary. This production was probably a result of infiltration and transformation of labile marine organic matter in the beach sediments. The non-conservative FDOM behavior in this subterranean estuary differs from most surface estuaries where FDOM typically behaves conservatively. At the study site, fresh and saline SGD delivered about 1800 mg d−1 of FDOM (quinine equivalents) to the coastal ocean per meter of shoreline. About 11% of this input was related to fresh SGD, while 89% were related to saline SGD resulting from FDOM production within the shallow aquifer. If these fluxes are representative of the Florida Gulf Coast, SGD-derived FDOM fluxes would be equivalent to at least 18% of the potential regional riverine FDOM inputs. To reduce uncertainties related to the scarcity of FDOM data, further investigations of river and groundwater FDOM inputs in Florida and elsewhere are necessary.

Find in your library