Articles | Volume 9, issue 7
Biogeosciences, 9, 2719–2736, 2012

Special issue: The BONUS-GoodHope IPY project: dynamics and biogeochemistry...

Biogeosciences, 9, 2719–2736, 2012

Research article 27 Jul 2012

Research article | 27 Jul 2012

New insights on the role of organic speciation in the biogeochemical cycle of dissolved cobalt in the southeastern Atlantic and the Southern Ocean

J. Bown, M. Boye, and D. M. Nelson J. Bown et al.
  • Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer (IUEM), UMS3113 – Laboratoire des Sciences de l'Environnement Marin, UMR6539, Technopôle Brest Iroise, Place Nicolas Copernic, 29280 Plouzané, France

Abstract. The organic speciation of dissolved cobalt (DCo) was investigated in the subtropical region of the southeastern Atlantic, and in the Southern Ocean in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and the northern Weddell Gyre, between 34°25´ S and 57°33´ S along the Greenwich Meridian during the austral summer of 2008. The organic speciation of dissolved cobalt was determined by competing ligand exchange adsorptive cathodic stripping voltammetry (CLE-AdCSV) using nioxime as a competing ligand. The concentrations of the organic ligands (L) ranged between 26 and 73 pM, and the conditional stability constants (log K'CoL) of the organic complexes of Co between 17.9 and 20.1. Most dissolved cobalt was organically complexed in the water-column (60 to >99.9%). There were clear vertical and meridional patterns in the distribution of L and the organic speciation of DCo along the section. These patterns suggest a biological source of the organic ligands in the surface waters of the subtropical domain and northern subantarctic region, potentially driven by the cyanobacteria, and a removal of the organic Co by direct or indirect biological uptake. The highest L:DCo ratio (5.81 ± 1.07 pM pM−1) observed in these surface waters reflected the combined effects of ligand production and DCo consumption. As a result of these combined effects, the calculated concentrations of inorganic Co ([Co']) were very low in the subtropical and subantarctic surface waters, generally between 10−19 and 10−17 M. In intermediate and deep waters, the South African margins can be a source of organic ligands, as it was suggested to be for DCo (Bown et al., 2011), although a significant portion of DCo (up to 15%) can be stabilized and transported as inorganic species in those DCo-enriched water-masses. Contrastingly, the distribution of L does not suggest an intense biological production of L around the Antarctic Polar Front where a diatom bloom had recently occurred. Here [Co'] can be several orders of magnitude higher than those reported in the subtropical domain, suggesting that cobalt limitation was unlikely in the ACC domain. The almost invariant L:DCo ratio of ~1 recorded in these surface waters also reflected the conservative behaviours of both L and DCo. In deeper waters higher ligand concentrations were observed in waters previously identified as DCo sources (Bown et al., 2011). At those depths the eastward increase of DCo from the Drake Passage to the Greenwich Meridian could be associated with a large scale transport and remineralisation of DCo as organic complexes; here, the fraction stabilized as inorganic Co was also significant (up to 25%) in the low oxygenated Upper Circumpolar Deep Waters. Organic speciation may thus be a central factor in the biogeochemical cycle of DCo in those areas, playing a major role in the bioavailability and the geochemistry of Co.

Final-revised paper