Cobalt, manganese, and iron near the Hawaiian Islands: A potential concentrating mechanism for cobalt within a cyclonic eddy and implications for the hybrid-type trace metals Academic Article uri icon


  • The vertical distributions of cobalt, iron, and manganese in the water column were studied during the E-Flux Program (E-Flux II and III), which focused on the biogeochemistry of cold-core cyclonic eddies that form in the lee of the Hawaiian Islands. During E-Flux II (January 2005) and E-Flux III (March 2005), 17 stations were sampled for cobalt (n =147), all of which demonstrated nutrient-like depletion in surface waters. During E-Flux III, two depth profiles collected from within a mesoscale coldcore eddy, Cyclone Opal, revealed small distinct maxima in cobalt at ~100m depth and a larger inventory of cobalt within the eddy. We hypothesize that this was due to a cobalt concentrating effect within the eddy, where upwelled cobalt was subsequently associated with sinking particulate organic carbon (POC) via biological activity and was released at a depth coincident with nearly complete POC remineralization (Benitez-Nelson et al. 2007). There is also evidence for the formation of a correlation between cobalt and soluble reactive phosphorus during E-Flux III relative to the E-Flux II cruise that we suggest is due to increased productivity, implying a minimum threshold of primary production below which cobalt-phosphate coupling does not occur. Dissolved iron was measured in E-Flux II and found in somewhat elevated concentrations (~0.5nM) in surface waters relative to the iron depleted waters of the surrounding Pacific (Fitzwater et al. 1996), possibly due to island effects associated with the iron-rich volcanic soil from the Hawaiian Islands and/or anthropogenic inputs. Distinct depth maxima in total dissolved cobalt were observed at 400 to 600m depth, suggestive of the release of metals from the shelf area of comparable depth that surrounds these islands.

publication date

  • May 2008