Quantifying Lithogenic Inputs to the Southern Ocean Using Long-Lived Thorium Isotopes
Frontiers in Marine Science
Thorium (Th) isotopes were applied to quantify the supply of lithogenic inputs from the Kerguelen Plateau to the Southern Ocean. The dissolved concentrations of 232 Th and 230 Th were measured following a novel pre-concentration method using the Nobias resin from 10 stations above and on the slopes of the plateau. Elevated 232 Th/ 230 Th ratios in the upper 500 m of the water column confirm the input of lithogenic material from islands, glaciers and the resuspension of shelf-deposited
... deposited sediments. 230 Th concentrations were used to calculate a scavenging residence time for Th, which was then applied to calculate the flux of dissolved 232 Th required to match the observed concentrations of dissolved 232 Th. The 232 Th content of the lithogenic material from the Kerguelen Plateau was used with the solubility of Th reported in the literature, to estimate a lithogenic particle flux of 7 to 810 mg m −2 day −1 . This flux is comparable to fluxes obtained using sediment traps (8-777 mg m −2 day −1 ) in other continental-margin zones of the Southern Ocean. The flux of dissolved iron, generated by the dissolution of particles, was also calculated (4,189-6,800 nmol m −2 day −1 ) based on the iron/thorium ratio in the material from the Kerguelen Plateau. This is higher than previous estimates (1,342 nmol m −2 day −1 ), suggesting the dissolution of particles as the missing source of iron, thus closing the iron budget of the region. This study confirms the utility of long-lived Th isotopes to quantify lithogenic inputs from continental margin settings.