A new perspective on boundary scavenging in the North Pacific Ocean

Hayes, Christopher Tyler; Anderson, Robert F.; Jaccard, Samuel L.; Fran├žois, Roger; Fleisher, Martin Q.; Soon, Maureen; Gersonde, Rainer

Boundary scavenging, or the enhanced removal of adsorption-prone elements from the ocean in areas of high particle flux, is an often cited, though not well-quantified, concept used to understand the oceanic distribution of many trace metals. Because 230Th and 231Pa are produced uniformly from uranium decay and removed differentially by scavenging, the process of boundary scavenging can be elucidated by a more detailed knowledge of their water column distributions. To this end, filtered seawater was collected across the gradients in particle flux which span the subarctic Pacific: in the west during the Innovative North Pacific Experiment (INOPEX) and in the east along Line P. Lateral concentration gradients of dissolved 230Th are small throughout the subarctic Pacific at 12 sites of variable particle flux. This contradicts the prediction of the traditional boundary scavenging model. A compilation of water column data from throughout the North Pacific reveals much larger lateral concentration gradients for 230Th between the subarctic North Pacific and subtropical gyre, over lateral gradients in scavenging intensity similar to those found within the subarctic. This reflects a biogeochemical-province aspect to scavenging. Upper water column distributions of 231Pa and 231Pa/230Th ratio are consistent with the influence of scavenging by biogenic opal, while deep waters (greater than 2.5 km) reveal an additional 231Pa sink possibly related to manganese oxides produced at continental margins or ridge crests.


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Also Published In

Earth and Planetary Science Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
May 17, 2013