The use of membrane-inlet quadrupole mass spectrometry, as a method for quantitative monitoring of dissolved gases in natural or semi-natural environments, is described. Its advantages over other methods lie in the fact that it provides an accurate, sensitive means for non-invasive, continuous analysis of several dissolved gases simultaneously. The potential of mass spectrometry as an ecological ... [Show full abstract] tool is illustrated by representative results from measurements made on undisturbed and experimentally amended estuarine and fresh-water sediments.
Dissolved gas profiles from the surface to a depth of 10 cm in the estuarine sediment showed that the dissolved oxygen decreased gradually until at 10 cm it was undetectable (< 0.25 μM); dinitrogen reached a maximum at 6 cm, where oxygen was 20 μM. In a fresh-water sediment, methane reached 1.5 mM at 10 cm depth. NOx was also detected; quantitation of carbon dioxide necessitates a correction for the contribution of NOx. Manipulation of conditions (gas phase, nitrogen and carbon sources) permitted ecological modelling.