Isotopic Fingerprinting of Biogeochemical Processes and Iron Sources in the Iron-limited Surface Southern Ocean
trace metals, micronutrients, biogeochemistry, nutrient cycling, Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Iron (Fe) is an essential micronutrient that limits primary productivity throughout the surface of the Southern Ocean. Here, we present the first high-resolution depth profiles for dissolved Fe and Fe isotope ratios (δ56">δ56 Fe) from all major zones of the Southern Ocean, collected during the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition in austral summer 2017. Open-ocean surface waters are characterized by remarkably high δ56">δ56 Fe values (up to +1.6‰) and very low Fe concentrations (<0.05 nmol kg−1). We attribute the elevated δ56">δ56 Fe values above the ferricline to the effect of continuous shallow cycling processes (uptake, recycling, and binding of Fe to organic ligands), with only a very limited resupply of Fe from below. Below the ferricline, δ56">δ56 Fe values approach ∼0‰ and remain constant down to our deepest samples at 1000 m, with no obvious isotope signal from regeneration. This overall pattern in δ56">δ56 Fe is modified near islands, continental shelves and hydrothermal vents, where distinct δ56">δ56 Fe signatures are associated with different Fe sources. Near the volcanic Balleny Islands, elevated surface Fe concentrations associated with low δ56">δ56 Fe are indicative of reductive release of isotopically light Fe from sediments. Elevated δ56">δ56 Fe values at depth near the Balleny seamount chain and near the East Scotia Arc may reflect distal hydrothermal influences, caused by fractionation associated with precipitation or the loss of specific phases of Fe during long-range transport. Sedimentary sources of isotopically light Fe on the Antarctic Peninsula are important for shelf waters. Long-distance transport of this sediment-derived Fe and its influence on surface waters are strongly dependent on the regional circulation, and may ultimately be the source of light Fe previously observed within Antarctic Intermediate Water in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean.
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 567, art. 116967
Scholar Commons Citation
Sieber, M.; Conway, T. M.; de Souza, G. F.; Hassler, C. S.; Ellwood, M. J.; and Vance, D., "Isotopic Fingerprinting of Biogeochemical Processes and Iron Sources in the Iron-limited Surface Southern Ocean" (2021). Marine Science Faculty Publications. 2479.