Rhizon sampling of pore waters near the sediment/water interface of aquatic systems

Jens Seeberg-Elverfeldt, Michael Schlüter, Tomas Feseker, Martin Kölling

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 3:361-371 (2005) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2005.3.361

ABSTRACT: Rhizon samplers were originally designed as micro-tensiometers for soil science to sample seepage water in the unsaturated zone. This study shows applications of Rhizons for porewater sampling from sediments in aquatic systems and presents a newly developed Rhizon in situ sampler (RISS). With the inexpensive Rhizon sampling technique, porewater profiles can be sampled with minimum disturbance of both the sediment structure and possible flow fields. Field experiments, tracer studies, and numerical modeling were combined to assess the suitability of Rhizons for porewater sampling. It is shown that the low effort and simple application makes Rhizons a powerful tool for porewater sampling and an alternative to classical methods. Our investigations show that Rhizons are well suited for sampling porewater on board a ship, in a laboratory, and also for in situ sampling. The results revealed that horizontally aligned Rhizons can sample porewater with a vertical resolution of 1 cm. Combined with an in situ benthic chamber system, the RISS allows studies of benthic fluxes and porewater profiles at the same location on the seafloor with negligible effect on the incubated sediment water interface. Results derived by porewater sampling of sediment cores from the Southern Ocean (Atlantic sector) and by in situ sampling of tidal flat sediments of the Wadden Sea (Sahlenburg/Cuxhaven, Germany) are presented.