Characterizing Redox Conditions in Oxygen-deficient Waters Off Peru During the 2013 US GEOTRACES Zonal Transect

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Gregory A Cutter, Old Dominion University, Gloucester, VA, United States and Maria Nielsdottir, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, United States
The oxygen-deficient zone that extends from coastal Peru well into the tropical Pacific Ocean has been described as “suboxic,” but recent measurements of sulfate reduction suggest it may have some anoxic characteristics (e.g., free sulfide). The redox poise of suboxia strongly affects the solubility/stability of a wide variety of trace elements and therefore their vertical and horizontal transport. The problem is that suboxic is not chemically well defined, but certainly represents a very wide range of redox conditions (pE of ca. 10 to -2). During the 2013 US GEOTRACES Pacific cruise (International GEOTRACES section GP16) we determined a suite of redox couples to help define the redox poise in the water column: oxygen(/water), iodate/iodide, nitrate/nitrite, selenate/elemental Se, arsenate/arsenite, and sulfate/hydrogen sulfide. Using the RV Thomas Thompson we occupied a total of 11 stations along 12° S from coastal Peru to 94° W to sample the oxygen deficient waters using a conventional CTD/rosette and the trace metal-clean US GEOTRACES CTD/carousel. Determinations of all the redox tracers were made on board ship except for selenium. On the Peru shelf, oxygen concentrations were less than 10 µM from 30m to the bottom, while farther offshore the depth of this oxygen minimum was 700 m thick starting at ca. 80 m depth; the layer thickness steadily decreased moving west. In spite of the low oxygen conditions, nitrate and iodate were still detectable, while their corresponding reduced species had maxima in the low O2 waters. Dissolved hydrogen sulfide was below the detection limit of 70 pM, and no evidence of As(V) reduction was found; selenium speciation has yet to be determined. The lack of detectable dissolved hydrogen sulfide shows the redox conditions are certainly not anoxic, and incomplete iodate and nitrate reduction suggest the redox environment is more oxidizing than previously reported. The apparent temporal and spatial variability of the redox poise will be discussed.