Sinking fluxes of minor and trace elements in the North Pacific Ocean measured during the VERTIGO program Academic Article uri icon


  • As part of the Vertical Transport in the Global Ocean (VERTIGO) program, we collected and analyzed sinking particles using sediment traps at three depths in the oceanic mesopelagic zone and at two biogeochemically contrasting sites (N. Central Pacific at ALOHA; N. Pacific Western Subarctic Gyre at K2). In this paper, we present the results of minor and trace element determinations made on these samples. Minor and trace elements in the sinking material showed 2 trends in flux with depth: increasing and constant. The sinking particulate phase of some elements (Al, Fe, Mn) was dominated by material of lithogenic origin and exhibited flux that was constant with depth and consistent with eolian dust inputs (ALOHA), or increasing in flux with depth as a result of lateral inputs from a shelf (K2). This shelf-derived material also appears to have been confined to very small particles, whose inherent sinking rates are slow, and residence time within the mesopelagic “twilight zone” would be consequently long. Furthermore, the flux of this material did not change with substantial changes in the rain of biogenic material from the surface (K2), suggesting mechanistic decoupling from the flux of organic carbon and macronutrients. Micronutrient (Fe. Co, Zn and Cu) fluxes examined in a 1-D mass balance suggest widely differing sources and sinks in the water column as well as impacts from biological uptake and regeneration. For example, total Fe fluxes into and out of the euphotic zone appeared to be dominated by lithogenic material and far exceed biological requirements. The export flux of Fe, however, appeared to be balanced by the eolian input of soluble Fe. For Zn and Cu, the situation is reversed, with atmospheric inputs insufficient to support fluxes, and the cycling therefore dominated by the draw down of an internal pool. For Co, the situation lies in between, with important, but ultimately insufficient atmospheric inputs. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • July 2008