Interannual and Subdecadal Variability in the Nutrient Geochemistry of the Cariaco Basin

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The CARIACO Ocean Time Series program has made monthly measurements of oxygen, nutrients, and carbon system parameters (∑CO2, alkalinity, pH) in the Cariaco Basin since 1996. At the same time, sediment traps have collected settling particles at four to five depths ranging from 150 to 1200 m. The depth of the transition from oxic to anoxic conditions has fluctuated dramatically over the time series due to changes in the occurrence of Caribbean water intrusions into the deep basin. Nutrient concentrations in the deep basin have increased steadily with time in a proportion reflective of the elemental ratios in the settling organic matter, although N:P ratios in the water column (approximately 16:1) differ from ratios in the accumulating nutrients (11:1) and the settling flux (ranging between 5:1 and 12.5:1). This difference is likely due to changes in the source material for remineralization, either because of sizeable ecosystem changes or changes in the relative importance of the terrestrial input of inorganic P or scavenging of P by mineral precipitation near the oxic/anoxic interface. Alternatively, there may have been changes in the degree of preferential remineralization of P.

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Oceanography, v. 27, issue 1, p. 148-159