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Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Bruce W. Nelson
Environmental Framework of Coastal Plain Estuaries
Geological Society of America
Geological Society of America Memoir
Filter feeders, such as mollusks, tunicates, and barnacles, ingest particles as small as 1 micron during their feeding process and void them in fecal pellets which range from 500 to 3,000 microns in length; these pellets settle at a much faster rate than their component particles. Feces and pseudofeces that settle to the bottom are termed biodeposits. Oyster biodeposits contain 77 to 91 percent inorganic matter, 4 to 12 percent organic carbon, and about 1.0 gram per kilogram of phosphorus. Fecal pellets are alternately deposited and resuspended by tidal currents. They settle and accumulate in areas of estuaries where the fine particles themselves would not. A portion of the biodeposits settling on sediment surfaces is mixed into subsurface deposits and may alter the textural and chemical properties of the original sediments.
Fecal pellets, filter feeders, biodeposits
Haven, Dexter S. and Morales-Alamo, Reinaldo, "Biodeposition as a Factor in Sedimentation of Fine Suspended Solids in Estuaries" (1972). VIMS Books and Book Chapters. 16.