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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Sulfate reduction plays an important role in altering dissolved organic matter (DOM) in estuarine and coastal sediments, although its role in the production of optically active chromophoric DOM (CDOM) and a subset of fluorescent DOM (FDOM) has not been previously investigated in detail. Freshwater sediment slurries were incubated anaerobically with added sulfate and acetate to promote sulfate-reducing bacteria. Ultraviolet visible (UV-Vis) absorbance and 3-dimensional excitation emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence spectra were measured over a five weeks anaerobic dark incubation period. Parallel Factor Analysis (PARAFAC) of FDOM determined components that increased significantly during dark and anaerobic incubation matching three components previously considered of terrestrially-derived or humic-like origin published in the OpenFluor database. The observed FDOM increase was strongly correlated (R2 = 0.96) with the reduction of sulfate. These results show a direct experimental link between sulfate reduction and FDOM production, which impacts our understanding of coastal FDOM sources and early sediment diagenesis. As 3D fluorescence techniques are commonly applied to diverse systems, these results provide increasing support that FDOM can have many diverse sources not consistently captured by common classifications such as “humic-like” fluorescence.


Civil Engineering

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Scientific Reports


Springer Nature

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This is an article published by Springer Nature in Scientific Reports in 2017, available online: