Geophysical and hydrological evaluation of two bog complexes in a northern peatland: Implications for the distribution of biogenic gases at the basin scale

Xavier Comas, Lee Slater, Andrew Reeve

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36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) was used to determine peat basin geometry and the spatial distribution of free-phase biogenic gasses in two separate units of a northern peatland (Central and Southern Unit of Caribou Bog, Maine). The Central Unit is characterized by a deep basin structure (15 m maximum depth) and a raised (eccentric) bog topographic profile (up to 2 m topographic variation). Here numerous regions of electromagnetic (EM) wave scattering are considered diagnostic of the presence of extensive free-phase biogenic gas. In contrast, the Southern Unit is shallower (8 m maximum depth) and has a slightly convex upwards bog profile (less than 1 m topographic variation), and areas of EM wave scattering are notably absent. The biogenic gas zones interpreted from GPR in the Central Unit are associated with: (1) wooded heath vegetation at the surface, (2) open pools at the surface, (3) high water table elevations near the center of the basin, and (4) a region of overpressure (at approximately 5 m depth) immediately below the zone of free-phase gas accumulation. The latter suggests (1) a transient pressure head associated with low hydraulic conductivity resulting from the biogenic gasses themselves or confining layers in the peat that restrict both gas release and groundwater flow and/or (2) overpressure in the peat column as a result of the gas buildup itself. In contrast, the Southern Unit, where zones of EM scattering are absent, is characterized by: (1) predominantly shrub vegetation, (2) a lack of open pools, (3) only minor variations (less than 1 m) in water table elevation throughout the entire unit; and (4) generally upward groundwater flow throughout the basin. The results illustrate the nonuniformity of free-phase biogenic gas distribution at the peat basin scale and provide insights into the processes and controls associated with CH4 and CO2 accumulation in peatlands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science

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