Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 25 Issue 01

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Volume 25, No. 1
Pages 209 - 212


Measuring the Form of Iron in Hydrothermal Plume Particles

By Brandy M. Toner , Matthew A. Marcus , Katrina J. Edwards, Olivier Rouxel , and Christopher R. German 
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The global mid-ocean ridge (MOR) system is a 60,000 km submarine volcanic mountain range that crosses all of the major ocean basins on Earth. Along the MOR, subseafloor seawater circulation exchanges heat and elements between the oceanic crust and seawater. One of the elements released through this venting process is iron. The amount of iron released by hydrothermal venting to the ocean per year (called a flux) is similar in magnitude to that in global riverine runoff (Elderfield and Schultz, 1996). Until recently, measurements and modeling activities to understand the contribution of hydrothermal iron to the ocean budget have been largely neglected. It was thought that hydrothermal iron was removed completely from seawater by precipitation of iron-bearing minerals within plumes and then deposited at the seafloor close to vent sites. With this assumption in place, the contribution of hydrothermal fluxes to the ocean budget was considered negligible. Recent work, however, questions the validity of that assumption, and leads to what we call the "leaky vent" hypothesis. Our goal is to measure the forms of iron, known as speciation, present in hydrothermal plume particles to better understand the bioavailability, geochemical reactivity, and transport properties of hydrothermal iron in the ocean.


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