Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Research article
30 Jun 2014
Research article |  | 30 Jun 2014

Quantification of octacalcium phosphate, authigenic apatite and detrital apatite in coastal sediments using differential dissolution and standard addition

J. F. Oxmann and L. Schwendenmann

Abstract. Knowledge of calcium phosphate (Ca-P) solubility is crucial for understanding temporal and spatial variations of phosphorus (P) concentrations in water bodies and sedimentary reservoirs. In situ relationships between liquid- and solid-phase levels cannot be fully explained by dissolved analytes alone and need to be verified by determining particular sediment P species. Lack of quantification methods for these species limits the knowledge of the P cycle. To address this issue, we (i) optimized a specifically developed conversion–extraction (CONVEX) method for P species quantification using standard additions, and (ii) simultaneously determined solubilities of Ca-P standards by measuring their pH-dependent contents in the sediment matrix. Ca-P minerals including various carbonate fluorapatite (CFAP) specimens from different localities, fluorapatite (FAP), fish bone apatite, synthetic hydroxylapatite (HAP) and octacalcium phosphate (OCP) were characterized by XRD, Raman, FTIR and elemental analysis. Sediment samples were incubated with and without these reference minerals and then sequentially extracted to quantify Ca-P species by their differential dissolution at pH values between 3 and 8. The quantification of solid-phase phosphates at varying pH revealed solubilities in the following order: OCP > HAP > CFAP (4.5% CO3) > CFAP (3.4% CO3) > CFAP (2.2% CO3) > FAP. Thus, CFAP was less soluble in sediment than HAP, and CFAP solubility increased with carbonate content. Unspiked sediment analyses together with standard addition analyses indicated consistent differential dissolution of natural sediment species vs. added reference species and therefore verified the applicability of the CONVEX method in separately determining the most prevalent Ca-P minerals. We found surprisingly high OCP contents in the coastal sediments analyzed, which supports the hypothesis of apatite formation by an OCP precursor mechanism.