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Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) to Coastal Waters of Saipan (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA): Implications for Nitrogen Sources, Transport and Ecological Effects

1
Department of Environmental Science, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA
2
Swire Institute of Marine Science, T.T. Tsui Building, HK Room 304, 3/F, Pok Fu Lam Rd, Lung Fu Shan, Hong Kong, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(11), 3029; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113029
Received: 29 September 2020 / Revised: 22 October 2020 / Accepted: 24 October 2020 / Published: 28 October 2020
Seagrass meadows and coral reefs along the coast of Saipan, a US commonwealth in the Northern Pacific, have been declining since the 1940s, possibly due to nutrient loading. This study investigated whether submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) contributes to nutrient loading and supports primary production on Saipan’s coast. SGD can be an important source of freshwater, nutrients, and other pollutants to coastal waters, especially in oceanic islands without well-developed stream systems. Ra and Rn isotopes were used as natural tracers of SGD. Nitrate, phosphate, and ammonium concentrations, ancillary water quality parameters, δ15N and δ18O of dissolved nitrate, and δ15N of primary producer tissue were measured. Our results pointed to discharge of low-salinity groundwater containing elevated concentrations of sewage-derived N at specific locations along Saipan’s coast. High SGD areas had lower salinity and pH, higher dissolved inorganic nitrogen concentrations, and elevated primary producer δ15N, indicative of sewage nitrogen inputs. We estimated that SGD could support 730–6400 and 3000–15,000 mol C d−1 of primary production in Tanapag and Garapan Lagoons, respectively, or up to approximately 60% of primary production in Garapan Lagoon. Efforts to improve water quality, reduce nutrient loading, and preserve coastal ecosystems must account for groundwater, since our results demonstrate that it is an important pathway of nitrogen delivery. View Full-Text
Keywords: submarine groundwater discharge (SGD); Saipan; nitrogen; nutrients; seagrasses; coastal ecosystems submarine groundwater discharge (SGD); Saipan; nitrogen; nutrients; seagrasses; coastal ecosystems
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MDPI and ACS Style

Knapp, M.A.; Geeraert, N.; Kim, K.; Knee, K.L. Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) to Coastal Waters of Saipan (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA): Implications for Nitrogen Sources, Transport and Ecological Effects. Water 2020, 12, 3029. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113029

AMA Style

Knapp MA, Geeraert N, Kim K, Knee KL. Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) to Coastal Waters of Saipan (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA): Implications for Nitrogen Sources, Transport and Ecological Effects. Water. 2020; 12(11):3029. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113029

Chicago/Turabian Style

Knapp, Melissa A.; Geeraert, Naomi; Kim, Kiho; Knee, Karen L. 2020. "Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) to Coastal Waters of Saipan (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA): Implications for Nitrogen Sources, Transport and Ecological Effects" Water 12, no. 11: 3029. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113029

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