Articles | Volume 12, issue 3
Biogeosciences, 12, 739–755, 2015

Special issue: KEOPS2: Kerguelen Ocean and Plateau Study 2

Biogeosciences, 12, 739–755, 2015

Research article 06 Feb 2015

Research article | 06 Feb 2015

Sourcing the iron in the naturally fertilised bloom around the Kerguelen Plateau: particulate trace metal dynamics

P. van der Merwe1, A. R. Bowie1,2, F. Quéroué1,2,3, L. Armand4, S. Blain5,6, F. Chever3,7, D. Davies1, F. Dehairs8, F. Planchon3, G. Sarthou9, A. T. Townsend10, and T. W. Trull1,11 P. van der Merwe et al.
  • 1Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC, University of Tasmania, TAS 7004, Australia
  • 2Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point, TAS 7004, Australia
  • 3Laboratoire des Sciences de l'Environnement Marin (LEMAR), Université de Bretagne Occidentale, CNRS,IRD, UMR6539, IUEM, Technopole Brest Iroise, Place Nicolas Copernic, 29280 Plouzané, France
  • 4Department of Biological Sciences and Climate Futures, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
  • 5Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR7621, Laboratoire d'Océanographie Microbienne, Observatoire Océanologique, 66650 Banyuls/mer, France
  • 6CNRS, UMR7621, Laboratoire d'Océanographie Microbienne, Observatoire Océanologique, 66650 Banyuls/mer, France
  • 7IFREMER/Centre de Brest, Département REM/EEP/Laboratoire Environnement Profond, CS 10070, 29280 Plouzané, France
  • 8Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Analytical, Environmental and Geo-Chemistry & Earth System Sciences research group, Brussels, Belgium
  • 9CNRS, Université de Brest, IRD, Ifremer, UMR6539 LEMAR, IUEM ; Technopôle Brest Iroise, Place Nicolas Copernic, 29280 Plouzané, France
  • 10Central Science Laboratory, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, TAS 7005, Australia
  • 11Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Oceans and Climate Flagship, GPO Box 1538, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Abstract. The KEOPS2 project aims to elucidate the role of natural Fe fertilisation on biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem functioning, including quantifying the sources and processes by which iron is delivered in the vicinity of the Kerguelen Archipelago, Southern Ocean. The KEOPS2 process study used an upstream high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll (HNLC), deep water (2500 m), reference station to compare with a shallow (500 m), strongly fertilised plateau station and continued the observations to a downstream, bathymetrically trapped recirculation of the Polar Front where eddies commonly form and persist for hundreds of kilometres into the Southern Ocean. Over the Kerguelen Plateau, mean particulate (1–53 μm) Fe and Al concentrations (pFe = 13.4 nM, pAl = 25.2 nM) were more than 20-fold higher than at an offshore (lower-productivity) reference station (pFe = 0.53 nM, pAl = 0.83 nM). In comparison, over the plateau dissolved Fe levels were only elevated by a factor of ~ 2. Over the Kerguelen Plateau, ratios of pMn / pAl and pFe / pAl resemble basalt, likely originating from glacial/fluvial inputs into shallow coastal waters. In downstream, offshore deep-waters, higher pFe / pAl, and pMn / pAl ratios were observed, suggesting loss of lithogenic material accompanied by retention of pFe and pMn. Biological uptake of dissolved Fe and Mn and conversion into the biogenic particulate fraction or aggregation of particulate metals onto bioaggregates also increased these ratios further in surface waters as the bloom developed within the recirculation structure. While resuspension of shelf sediments is likely to be one of the important mechanisms of Fe fertilisation over the plateau, fluvial and glacial sources appear to be important to areas downstream of the island. Vertical profiles within an offshore recirculation feature associated with the Polar Front show pFe and pMn levels that were 6-fold and 3.5-fold lower, respectively, than over the plateau in surface waters, though still 3.6-fold and 1.7-fold higher respectively than the reference station. Within the recirculation feature, strong depletions of pFe and pMn were observed in the remnant winter water (temperature-minimum) layer near 175 m, with higher values above and below this depth. The correspondence between the pFe minima and the winter water temperature minima implies a seasonal cycle is involved in the supply of pFe into the fertilised region. This observed association is indicative of reduced supply in winter, which is counterintuitive if sediment resuspension and entrainment within the mixed layer is the primary fertilising mechanism to the downstream recirculation structure. Therefore, we hypothesise that lateral transport of pFe from shallow coastal waters is strong in spring, associated with snow melt and increased runoff due to rainfall, drawdown through summer and reduced supply in winter when snowfall and freezing conditions predominate in the Kerguelen region.

Short summary
Trace metal analysis of suspended and settling particles and underlying sediment was undertaken to elucidate the source to sink progression of the particulate trace metal pool near Kerguelen Island (Southern Ocean). Findings indicate that the Kerguelen Plateau is a source of trace metals via resuspended shelf sediments, especially below the mixed layer. However, glacial/fluvial runoff into shallow coastal waters is an important mode of fertilisation to areas downstream of Kerguelen Island.
Final-revised paper