Physical and remineralization processes govern the cobalt distribution in the deep western Atlantic Ocean
Abstract. The distributions of the bio-essential trace element dissolved cobalt (DCo) and the apparent particulate Co (PCo) are presented along the GEOTRACES-A02 deep section from 64° N to 50° S in the western Atlantic Ocean (longest section of international GEOTRACES marine environment program). PCo was determined as the difference between total cobalt (TCo, unfiltered samples) and DCo. DCo concentrations ranged from 14.7 pM to 94.3 pM, and PCo concentrations from undetectable values to 18.8 pM. The lowest DCo concentrations were observed in the subtropical domains, and the highest in the low-oxygenated Atlantic Central Waters (ACW), which appears to be the major reservoir of DCo in the western Atlantic. In the Antarctic Bottom Waters, the enrichment in DCo with aging of the water mass can be related to suspension and redissolution of bottom sediments a well as diffusion of DCo from abyssal sediments. Mixing and dilution of deep water masses, rather than scavenging of DCo onto settling particles, generated the meridional decrease of DCo along the southward large-scale circulation in the deep western Atlantic. Furthermore, the apparent scavenged profile of DCo observed in the deep waters likely resulted from the persistence of relatively high concentrations in intermediate waters and low DCo concentrations in underlaying bottom waters. We suggest that the 2010 Icelandic volcanic eruption could have been a source of DCo that could have been transported into the core of the Northeast Atlantic Deep Waters. At intermediate depths, the high concentrations of DCo recorded in the ACW linearly correlated with the apparent utilization of oxygen (AOU), indicating that remineralization of DCo could be significant (representing up to 37% of the DCo present). Furthermore, the preferential remineralization of phosphate (P) compared to Co in these low-oxygenated waters suggests a decoupling between the deep cycles of P and Co. The vertical diffusion of DCo from the ACW appears to be a significant source of DCo into the surface waters of the equatorial domain. Summarizing, the dilution due to mixing processes rather than scavenging of DCo and the above-mentioned remineralization could be the two major pathways controlling the cycling of DCo into the intermediate and deep western Atlantic.