Transformations of biogenic particulates from the pelagic to the deep ocean realm Academic Article uri icon


  • This overview compares and contrasts trends in the magnitude of the downward Particulate Organic Carbon (POC) flux with observations on the vertical profiles of biogeochemical parameters in the NE subarctic Pacific. Samples were collected at Ocean Station Papa (OSP, 50 degree N, 145 degree W), between 18-22 May 1996, on pelagic stocks/rate processes, biogenic particle fluxes (drifting sediment traps, 100--1000 m), and vertical profiles of biogeochemical parameters from MULVFS (Multiple Unit Large Volume Filtration System) pumps (0--1000 m). Evidence from thorium disequilibria, along with observations on the relative partitioning of particles between the 1-53 mu m and >53 mu m classes in the 50 m mixed layer, indicate that there was little particle aggregation within the mixed layer, in contrast to the 50-100 m indicate that there was little particle aggregation within the mixed layer, in contrast to the 50-400 m depth stratum where particle aggregation predominated. Vertical profiles of thorium/uranium also provided evidence of particle decomposition occurring at depths ca. 150 m; heterotrophic bacteria and mesozooplankton were likely responsible for most of this POC utilization. A water column carbon balance indicated that the POC lost from sinking particles was the predominant source of carbon for bacteria, but was insufficient to meet their demands over the upper 1000 m. While, the vertical gradients of most parameters were greatest just below the mixed layer, there was evidence of sub-surface increases in microbial viability/growth rates at depths of 200--600 m. The C:N ratios of particles intercepted by free-drifting and deep-moored traps increased only slightly with depth, suggesting rapid sedimentation even though this region is dominated by small cells/grazers, and the upper water column is characterized by long particle residence times (> 15 d), a fast turnover of POC (2 d) and a low but constant downward POC flux.

publication date

  • November 1999