Redox potential and seasonal porewater biogeochemistry of three mountain wetlands in Southeastern Kentucky, USA

Yvonne Thompson, Brian C. Sandefur, A. D. Karathanasis, Elisa D'Angelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Redox potentials (Eh) were monitored bimonthly and porewater chemistry was analyzed seasonally at three slightly-acidic, high-elevation Kentucky wetlands that differed in hydrology, parent materials, and vegetation. At all sites, Eh values were below 300 mV, which indicated that reducing conditions persisted within the upper 90 cm and fluctuated mainly within the range of iron and sulfate reduction. Significant relationships of Eh values with depth were observed only at the Martins Fork wetland, where precipitation was the primary water source. The strongest and most stable reducing conditions, observed at the Kentenia site, reflected consistently high water levels, which were sustained by ground water. The third wetland (Four Level) was distinguished by irregular Eh fluctuations coinciding with strong seasonal ground-water upwelling. Although Fe3+ and SO42- were the primary terminal electron acceptors in all wetlands, porewater chemistry also varied significantly by season and soil depth in response to piezometric water level fluctuations. Additional factors that influenced porewater chemistry included: (1) the presence of limestone parent materials that affected porewater pH, Ca2+, and Mg2+; and (2) the prevalence of sphagnum moss or graminoid species that influenced dissolved organic carbon, CO2, and CH4. Results from this study indicated the diverse range and importance of multiple factors in controlling biogeochemical processes and properties in small, high-elevation Appalachian wetlands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-370
Number of pages22
JournalAquatic Geochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Anoxic Appalachian seep
  • Dissolved organic carbon
  • Ground water
  • Hydrophytic community
  • Iron
  • Peepers
  • Porewater chemistry
  • Precipitation
  • Redox potential
  • Sulfate
  • Water levels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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