Extraction of seawater-derived neodymium from different phases of deep sea sediments by selective leaching

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Patrick Blaser1, Joerg Albert Lippold2, Norbert Frank1, Marcus Gutjahr3 and Evelyn Böhm1, (1)University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, (2)University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, (3)GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
In order to deduce reliable information about the interaction of the oceans with the climate system as a whole in the past, the reconstruction of water mass circulation is crucial. The analysis of seawater-derived neodymium isotopes (143Nd/144Nd, expressed as εNd) in marine sediments provides a unique proxy for deep water provenance in particular in the Atlantic [1]. The εNd signature and thus the mixing proportion of the local bottom water masses is archived in authigenic phases in the sediment. Obtaining seawater εNd from authigenic accretions bound to foraminiferal tests has lately become the preferred since most reliable method [2]. Attempts have also been made to extract the Nd-rich authigenic metal fraction by leaching it off the bulk sediment and thereby use this proxy with less effort, in the highest possible resolution and in sediments where foraminifera are not sufficiently present. However, often other sedimentary components are also leached in the process and contaminate the extracted Nd [3,4].

In this project several core-top and older sediments across the Atlantic have been leached in ten consecutive steps with either dilute buffered acetic acid or an acid-reductive solution. The leachates were analysed on their elemental and Nd isotope compositions, as well as rare earth element (REE) distributions. By graduating the total leaching procedure into smaller stages the results display which processes take place in the course of sediment leaching in the laboratory and which components of the sediment are most reactive. Thus, they help to better evaluate the quality of sediment leaches for εNd analysis. Clearly, organic calcite acts as a fast reacting buffer and at the point where its amount is sufficiently reduced the leaching of other components commences and the Nd concentration peaks. Corruption of the extracted εNd signal by non-authigenic sources in many cases occured early in the leaching sequence, indicating that only very cautious leaching can reliably extract an authigenic εNd signal from diverse sedimentary environments.


[1] Crocket, K. C. et al. (2011), Geology 39, 515-518

[2] Tachikawa, K. et al. (2014), Quat. Sci. Rev. 88, 1-13

[3] Elmore, A. C. et al. (2011), G³ Vol. 12/9

[4] Wilson, D. J. et al. (2013), GCA 109, 197-221