Abstract Solid-phase phosphorus (P) speciation and benthic phosphate fluxes have been determined in Arabian Sea sediments. Benthic phosphate fluxes are highest in the continental slope sediments, underlying bottom waters with low oxygen concentrations. Organic matter degradation and phosphate desorption from iron oxides do not produce sufficient phosphate to explain these high phosphate fluxes. The potentially high deposition of P associated with fish debris (Pfish) in the Arabian Sea, and a good correlation between benthic phosphate fluxes and Pfish accumulation rates suggest that benthic phosphate fluxes in these sediments are to a large extent governed by dissolution of biogenic apatite. Factors controlling dissolution and preservation of fish debris, therefore, may play an important role in the burial and regeneration of P in continental margin sediments. A sharp decrease of the reactive P accumulation rate with increasing water depth, in combination with rather constant primary productivity rates throughout the northern Arabian Sea, indicates that P burial in continental margin sediments located within the OMZ is more efficient than in deep basin sediments. The effectiveness of P burial is to a large extent regulated by P regeneration occurring in the water column and redeposition processes. Sedimentary phosphorus burial efficiencies, thus, should be interpreted with caution in terms of the environmental conditions.
S. Schenau, G. Lange