University of Tasmania
153649 - Lithogenic particle flux to the subantarctic Southern Ocean.pdf (1.91 MB)

Lithogenic particle flux to the subantarctic Southern Ocean: a multi-tracer estimate using sediment trap samples

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Mineral dust is a key source of essential micronutrients, particularly iron (Fe), for phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean. However, observations of dust deposition over the Southern Ocean are sparse, hindering assessments of its influence on marine biogeochemistry. We present a time series (2010-2019) of lithogenic particle flux estimates using sediment trap samples collected at 1,000 m depth at the subantarctic Southern Ocean Time Series (SOTS) site. Lithogenic flux was estimated using individual Fe, aluminium (Al), titanium, and thorium concentrations in sediment trap particles less than 1 mm in size. These tracers showed good agreement with one another, and their average was investigated as a proxy for mineral dust deposition. This multi-tracer average lithogenic flux exhibited strong seasonality, peaking in late spring and summer. No significant Fe enrichment was observed compared to the average upper continental crust, indicating that lithogenic material dominates particulate Fe flux at SOTS. Similar Fe:Al ratios in our samples compared to those reported in marine aerosols off southern Australia, coupled with particle trajectory analysis, suggested Australian dust constitutes the primary lithogenic source to SOTS sinking particles. Lead enrichment in our samples also highlighted an anthropogenic contribution to sinking particles, which might represent an additional aeolian source of more bio-available Fe to subantarctic waters. This study contributes a new long-term estimate of lithogenic particle fluxes and aeolian deposition over the subantarctic Southern Ocean. These estimates may enhance model representation of trace metal contribution to biogeochemical processes in the Southern Ocean.


Publication title

Global Biogeochemical Cycles





Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Amer Geophysical Union

Place of publication

2000 Florida Ave Nw, Washington, USA, Dc, 20009

Rights statement

© 2022. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes