In one-dimensional (1D) early diagenetic models, bioirrigation is typically represented by a nonlocal mass transfer or bioirrigation coefficient, α. Usually, all pore water species are assigned the same α. Here, we show that this assumption can lead to significant errors in estimates of bioirrigation intensities. Using a simplified early diagenetic reaction network, we compute the 3D concentration fields of major pore water species around a vertical burrow, as well as the solute fluxes across the burrow wall. From these results, corresponding 1D vertical α profiles are derived. The α profiles show pronounced differences from one solute to another. Dissolved O2 systematically exhibits the highest α values, while fast oxygenation kinetics near the burrow wall result in near-zero α values for aqueous Fe2+. For nitrate, use of a species-averaged α profile may even lead to an erroneous prediction of the direction of the irrigation flux across the water-sediment interface. The large differences in α profiles reflect the variable effects of biogeochemical processes on pore water concentration fields of reactive solutes near the burrow wall. Even for inert solutes, however, determination of α can be ambiguous. Transient simulations mimicking the intrusion into the sediment of an inert tracer during an incubation experiment yield apparent mixing intensities that depend on the incubation time.
Meile, Christof, Peter Berg, Philippe Van Cappellen, and Kagan Tuncay. 2005. "Solute-specific pore water irrigation: Implications for chemical cycling in early diagenesis." Journal of Marine Research 63, (3). https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/journal_of_marine_research/93