Sources, Fluxes, and Residence Times of Trace Elements Measured During the U.S. GEOTRACES East Pacific Zonal Transect

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Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


Trace element (TE) fluxes and their residence times (Fe, Mn, Cu, Pb, Cd, and V) within the surface ocean were determined along the GEOTRACES East Pacific Zonal Transect (GP16/EPZT) and found to reflect the diverse physical and geochemical conditions encountered across the track. The TE flux from atmospheric deposition, vertical mixing, and upwelling into the mixed layer and into the particle production zone (PPZ) along the GEOTRACES EPZT transect were evaluated with 7Be-based methods developed in earlier works. A horizontal input flux is driven from east to west by the South Equatorial Current (SEC), and estimated advection velocities were applied to horizontal gradients in the distributions of several TEs to approximate this term. There is a minimum in atmospheric deposition in the central gyre, with higher fluxes to the east due to large near-shore aerosol TE loadings, and higher to the west due to greater precipitation-driven deposition velocities (Vb). The 7Be-derived vertical diffusion (Kz) values range from 2.5 to 39 m2/d (0.29 × 10−4 to 4.5 × 10−4 m2/s) with higher values generally within the nearshore upwelling region and the lowest values within the stratified central gyre. Manganese displayed a well-defined gradient extending from the nearshore stations into the central gyre such that the advective term is a major component of the total input flux, particularly within the central gyre. Relative to other inputs the atmospheric input of soluble Mn is only of minor importance. Unlike Mn, there is no discernable horizontal gradient in the dissolved Fe data and therefore, there is no horizontal component of flux. Nearshore removal processes are more intense for dissolved Fe than for dissolved Mn and as a result, dissolved Mn remains elevated much farther offshore than does dissolved Fe. For the stratified mid-ocean gyre stations, the total input of Fe from all sources is relatively small compared to the inshore stations, and atmospheric deposition becomes the dominant mode of input. Aerosol Fe solubility determined by a 25% acetic acid leach with hydroxylamine hydrochloride was much greater than that derived from a leach using ultra-pure deionized water. This led to significant differences in the residence time of Fe calculated for the mid-ocean gyre using these different solubilities. Generally, each element displays relatively short (weeks–months) residence times within the nearshore region of robust upwelling, reflecting large input terms and rapid removal. Moving offshore, total input fluxes decrease and the residence times of the TEs increase markedly until the western edge of the transect. There, relaxation of ocean stratification permits greater upward turbulent flux and greater rainfall leads to greater atmospheric input of TEs.

Publication Title

Marine Chemistry



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