How Well Do Neodymium Isotopes Trace AMOC Mixing? A Test in the Southwest Atlantic

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Yingzhe Wu1, Steven L Goldstein1, Leopoldo Pena1, Alison E Hartman1, Micha J.A. Rijkenberg2 and Hein J W De Baar2, (1)Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States, (2)Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Den Burg, Netherlands
Neodymium (Nd) isotope ratios are used to trace past AMOC circulation, based on observations that seawater Nd isotope ratios effectively “fingerprint” water masses, and that over long water mass transport distances in deep seawater they reflect values expected from water mass mixing. Over the past several years, studies have increasingly focused on the potential of external addition of Nd along water mass transport paths (for example through “boundary exchange” with particulates or addition from groundwaters), thus challenging the idea that Nd isotopes behave “quasi-conservatively” in the oceans. The SW Atlantic, with the major water masses involved in the AMOC (southward flowing NADW, northward flowing AAIW and AABW), is arguably the best place on Earth to evaluate how well Nd isotopes trace water mass mixing, in order to clarify its value for following the AMOC through time.

We will report Nd isotope ratios of seawater collected on the SW Atlantic meridional transect of the NIOZ West Atlantic GEOTRACES Cruise Leg 3 (RRS James Cook 057), which sampled seawater profiles and the sediment surface at 18 stations between 0-50°S. Most stations are sampled in the open ocean, providing a test of whether Nd isotopes show quasi-conservative mixing systematics away from continental margins. The cruise section also provides several opportunities to test the potential effects of external Nd input. For example, it transects the continental shelf in the far south, the Rio Grande Rise, volcanic seamounts, and the major geological age boundaries of South America. It also crosses the major Southern Hemisphere wind zones, allowing us to test the impacts of aeolian input, and inputs from major rivers (Parana-Paraguay, Sao Francisco, Amazon). All of these features have the potential to modify the seawater Nd isotope ratios, allowing us to determine if they add significant external Nd.