The distribution and stabilisation of dissolved iron (Fe) in deep-sea hydrothermal plumes

S. Bennett, E. Achterberg, D. Connelly, P. Stratham, Gary Fones, C. German

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We have conducted a study of hydrothermal plumes overlying the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near 5° S to investigate whether there is a significant export flux of dissolved Fe from hydrothermal venting to the oceans. Our study combined measurements of plume-height Fe concentrations from a series of 6 CTD stations together with studies of dissolved Fe speciation in a subset of those samples. At 2.5 km down plume from the nearest known vent site dissolved Fe concentrations were ∼20 nM. This is much higher than would be predicted from a combination of plume dilution and dissolved Fe(II) oxidation rates, but consistent with stabilisation due to the presence of organic Fe complexes and Fe colloids. Using Competitive Ligand Exchange–Cathodic Stripping Voltammetry (CLE–CSV), stabilised dissolved Fe complexes were detected within the dissolved Fe fraction on the edges of one non-buoyant hydrothermal plume with observed ligand concentrations high enough to account for stabilisation of ∼4% of the total Fe emitted from the 5° S vent sites. If these results were representative of all hydrothermal systems, submarine venting could provide 12–22% of the global deep-ocean dissolved Fe budget.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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