Inhibited Manganese Oxide Formation Hinders Cobalt Scavenging in the Ross Sea

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The Southern Ocean plays a critical role in regulating global uptake of atmospheric CO2. Trace elements like iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), and manganese (Mn) have been shown to modulate this primary productivity. Despite limited data, the vertical profiles for Mn, Fe, and Co in the Ross Sea show no evidence of scavenging, as typically observed in oceanic sites. This was previously attributed to low-particle abundance and/or by mixing rates exceeding scavenging rates. Scavenging of some trace metals such as cobalt (Co) is thought to be largely governed by Mn (oxyhydr)oxides, assumed to be the main component of particulate Mn (pMn). However, our data show that pMn has an average oxidation state below 3 and with nondetectable Mn oxides. In addition, soluble Co profiles show no evidence of scavenging and Co uptake measurements show little Co uptake in the euphotic zone and low/no scavenging at depth. Instead, high concentrations of dissolved Mn (dMn, up to 90 nM), which is primarily complexed as Mn(III)-L (up to 100%), are observed. Average dMn concentrations (10 ± 14 nM) are highest in bottom and surface waters. Manganese sources may include sediments and sea-ice melt, as elevated dMn was measured in sea ice (12 nM) compared to its surrounding waters (3 nM), and sea ice dMn was 97% Mn(III)-L. We contend that the lack of Co scavenging in the Ross Sea is due to a unique Mn redox cycle that favors the stabilization of Mn(III)-complexes at the expense of Mn oxide particle formation.

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Global Biogeochemical Cycles