Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

The application of sediment capping agents on phosphorus speciation and mobility in a sub-tropical dunal lake

Darren Akhurst A , Graham B. Jones A B and David M. McConchie A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Coastal Management, School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 55(7) 715-725
Submitted: 3 November 2003  Accepted: 27 July 2004   Published: 1 October 2004


Experimental sediment cores from Lake Ainsworth, Australia, were exposed to an induced 46-day, anoxic/oxic cycle in the laboratory, mimicking the seasonal thermal stratification cycle commonly observed in the lake’s waters every summer. Under oxic conditions the supply of phosphorus (P) and iron (Fe) to the overlying water was slow, however, induced anoxia led to an enhanced release of P and Fe from the sediments to the water column. An inverse relationship between total P, Fe and redox potential suggests that Lake Ainsworth sediments are redox sensitive. Phosphorus speciation analysis of Lake Ainsworth sediments revealed the presence of a large pool of organic P, reactive Fe-bound P, and CaCO3-bound P, the latter fraction decreasing during anoxic conditions. Two sediment-capping agents, a lanthanum modified bentonite clay and Bauxsol (a waste product from the aluminium smelting industry) were assessed for their ability to reduce the levels of P released from Lake Ainsworth sediments during the 46-day, anoxic/oxic cycle. The bentonite clay was highly effective at reducing plant available P in anoxic/oxic conditions, but levels of dissolved Fe were enhanced with its use. Although the use of Bauxsol to remove plant available P is not recommended in anoxic waters, its use in suspension in oxic waters warrants further study.

Extra keywords: anoxia, dunal lake, eutrophication, northern New South Wales, phosphorus release, redox, remediation agents, sediments.


The authors would like to thank Graham Plumb of Ballina Shire Council, staff of the Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL) of Southern Cross University, staff of the New South Wales Sport and Recreation Centre (Lake Ainsworth), and Dr Bradley Eyre, and Dr Angus Ferguson of Southern Cross University for advice, and loan of essential sampling equipment.


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