ABSTRACT: Although microorganisms are certainly present in swamp and marsh peats, their geochemical role has not been demonstrated, in spite of their importance in determining the input to coalification processes. In order to obtain information on the gross level of microbial activity in the natural habitats, a broad-spectrum test for a type of enzyme important in the respiration of all organisms has been applied to cores of peat from a number of different environments in the Florida Everglades. In most cases, the respiratory activity in the upper layer is comparable to that in a fertile mineral soil, and this level of activity is found also at greater depths in several cores. In addition, some properties of the peat that tend to define their character as habitats for microorganisms were determined. pH values close to neutrality were observed at all sites. Chlorinity and total ionic strength naturally were high in the coastal swamps; seasonal variations in profiles in the brackish areas somewhat away from the coast suggested that some bulk flow of water through the peat into the porous limestone bedrock occurs in the rainy season. Eh profiles, regarded as empirical characterizations of environments, did differ considerably between saline and fresh water peats, though on a graphite indicator electrode were more positive than might have been expected in systems in which sulfate reduction was active. However, in these non-equilibrium systems, the potential recorded apparently depends on the nature of the electrode material used.
International Journal of Coal Geology.