Effects of dust deposition on iron cycle in the surface Mediterranean Sea: results from a mesocosm seeding experiment
Abstract. Soil dust deposition is recognized as a major source of iron to the open ocean at global and regional scales. However, the processes that control the speciation and cycle of iron in the surface ocean after dust deposition are poorly documented mainly due to the logistical difficulties to investigate in-situ, natural dust events. The development of clean mesocosms in the frame of the DUNE project (a DUst experiment in a low Nutrient low chlorophyll Ecosystem) was a unique opportunity to investigate these processes at the unexplored scale of one dust deposition event. During the DUNE-1-P mesocosm seeding experiment, iron stocks (dissolved and particulate concentrations in the water column) and fluxes (export of particulate iron in sediment traps) were followed during 8 days after an artificial dust seeding mimicking a wet deposition of 10 g m−2. The addition of dust at the surface of the mesocosms was immediately followed by a decrease of dissolved iron [dFe] concentration in the 0–10 m water column. This decrease was likely due to dFe scavenging on settling dust particles and mineral organic aggregates. The scavenging ratio of dissolved iron on dust particles averaged 0.37 ± 0.12 nmol mg−1. Batch dissolution experiments conducted in parallel to the mesocosm experiment showed a increase (up to 600%) in dust iron dissolution capacity in dust-fertilized waters compared to control conditions. This study gives evidences of complex and unexpected effects of dust deposition on surface ocean biogeochemistry: (1) large dust deposition events may be a sink for surface ocean dissolved iron and (2) successive dust deposition events may induce different biogeochemical responses in the surface ocean.