Journal article Open Access

Rare Earth Element distribution in the NE Atlantic: Evidence for benthic sources, longevity of the seawater signal, and biogeochemical cycling

Crocket, Kirsty; Hill, Emily; Abell, Richard; Johnson, Clare; Gary, Stefan; Brand, Tim; Hathorne, E.


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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;Seawater rare earth element (REE) concentrations are increasingly applied to reconstruct&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;water mass histories by exploiting relative changes in the distinctive normalised patterns.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;However, the mechanisms by which water masses gain their patterns are yet to be&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;fully explained. To examine this, we collected water samples along the Extended Ellett&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;Line (EEL), an oceanographic transect between Iceland and Scotland, and measured&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;dissolved REE by offline automated chromatography (SeaFAST) and ICP-MS. The&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;proximity to two continental boundaries, the incipient spring bloom coincident with the&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;timing of the cruise, and the importance of deep water circulation in this climatically&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;sensitive gateway region make it an ideal location to investigate sources of REE to&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;seawater and the effects of vertical cycling and lateral advection on their distribution. The&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;deep waters have REE concentrations closest to typical North Atlantic seawater and are&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;dominated by lateral advection. Comparison to published seawater REE concentrations&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;of the same water masses in other locations provides a first measure of the temporal&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;and spatial stability of the seawater REE signal. We demonstrate the REE pattern is&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;replicated for Iceland-Scotland OverflowWater (ISOW) in the Iceland Basin from adjacent&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;stations sampled 16 years previously. A recently published Labrador Sea Water (LSW)&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;dissolved REE signal is reproduced in the Rockall Trough but shows greater light and&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;mid REE alteration in the Iceland Basin, possibly due to the dominant effect of ISOW&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;and/or continental inputs. An obvious concentration gradient from seafloor sediments to&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;the overlying water column in the Rockall Trough, but not the Iceland Basin, highlights&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;release of light and mid REE from resuspended sediments and pore waters, possibly&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;a seasonal effect associated with the timing of the spring bloom in each basin. The&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;EEL dissolved oxygen minimum at the permanent pycnocline corresponds to positive&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;heavy REE enrichment, indicating maximum rates of organic matter remineralisation&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;and associated REE release. We tentatively suggest a bacterial role to account for the&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;observed heavy REE deviations. This study highlights the need for fully constrained&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;REE sources and sinks, including the temporary nature of some sources, to achieve&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;a balanced budget of seawater REE.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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