Quantifying the impact of riverine particulate dissolution in seawater on ocean chemistry

Jones, Morgan T.; Gislason, Sigurður R.; Burton, Kevin W.; Pearce, Christopher R. ORCID:; Mavromatis, Vasileios; Pogge von Strandmann, Philip A.E.; Oelkers, Eric H.. 2014 Quantifying the impact of riverine particulate dissolution in seawater on ocean chemistry. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 395. 91-100.

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The quantification of the sources and sinks of elements to the oceans forms the basis of our understanding of global geochemical cycles and the chemical evolution of the Earth's surface. There is, however, a large imbalance in the current best estimates of the global fluxes to the oceans for many elements. In the case of strontium (Sr), balancing the input from rivers would require a much greater mantle-derived component than is possible from hydrothermal water flux estimates at mid-ocean ridges. Current estimates of riverine fluxes are based entirely on measurements of dissolved metal concentrations, and neglect the impact of riverine particulate dissolution in seawater. Here we present 87Sr/86Sr isotope data from an Icelandic estuary, which demonstrate rapid Sr release from the riverine particulates. We calculate that this Sr release is 1.1–7.5 times greater than the corresponding dissolved riverine flux. If such behaviour is typical of volcanic particulates worldwide, this release could account for 6–45% of the perceived marine Sr budget imbalance, with continued element release over longer timescales further reducing the deficit. Similar release from particulate material will greatly affect the marine budgets of many other elements, changing our understanding of coastal productivity, and anthropogenic effects such as soil erosion and the damming of rivers.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0012821X
Date made live: 05 Nov 2015 10:56 +0 (UTC)

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