Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 8, issue 12
Biogeosciences, 8, 3793–3808, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-3793-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 8, 3793–3808, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-3793-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Dec 2011

Research article | 21 Dec 2011

Particle-reactive radionuclides (234Th, 210Pb, 210) as tracers for the estimation of export production in the South China Sea

C.-L. Wei1, S.-Y. Lin1, D. D.-D. Sheu2, W.-C. Chou3, M.-C. Yi1, P. H. Santschi4, and L.-S. Wen1 C.-L. Wei et al.
  • 1Inst. of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, 23-13, Taipei 106, Taiwan
  • 2Inst. of Marine Geology and Chemistry, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung 804, Taiwan
  • 3Inst. of Marine Environmental Chemistry and Ecology, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan
  • 4Department of Oceanography and Marine Sciences, Texas A and M University, 200 Seawolf Parkway, Galveston, TX 77553, USA

Abstract. The time-series station, SEATS (18° N, 116° E) in the South China Sea was visited six times during October 2006–December 2008 to carry out seawater sampling and floating trap deployments for the determination of distributions and fluxes of POC, PIC, PN, 234Th, 210Pb, and 210Po in the upper 200 m of the water column. Radionuclide deficiencies resulted in removal fluxes from the euphotic layer of 1.1×103–1.8×103 dpm m−2d−1 and 7.1–40.2 dpm m−2d−1 for 234Th and 210Po, respectively. Due to atmospheric input, an excess of 210Pb relative to 226Ra is commonly observed in the upper water column. Sinking fluxes of total mass, POC, PIC, PN, 234Th, 210Pb, and 210Po measured at the euphotic depth were low in summer-fall and high in winter-spring, reflecting the seasonal variability of biological pumping. Excluding the suspiciously low primary productivity data point in July 2007, a relatively high e-ratio of 0.28–0.69 was estimated by the ratio of the POC flux at the euphotic depth and the integrated primary productivity. The ratios of 234Th, 210Pb, and 210Po to organic carbon, inorganic carbon, and nitrogen in the sinking particles were combined with the disequilibria of 234Th–238U, 210Pb–226Ra, and 210Po–210Pb to estimate export fluxes of POC, PIC, and PN from the euphotic layer. Compared with measured fluxes by the sediment trap and estimated fluxes by other approaches, it is concluded that the export production in the South China Sea, ranging from 1.8 to 21.3 mmol-C m−2d−1, can be reasonably estimated using 234Th, 210Pb, and 210Po as carbon proxies.

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