Iron Cycling in Sediment of the North Atlantic: Preliminary Results from R/V Knorr Expedition 223
Abstract:Iron (Fe) in marine sediments is a significant microbial electron acceptor [Fe(III)] in suboxic conditions and is an electron donor [Fe(II)] in oxic conditions. In the transition from oxic to suboxic sediment, a portion of solid Fe is reduced and mobilized as soluble Fe(II) into interstitial water during the oxidation of organic matter. The presence of Fe and its oxidation state in oxic sediment provides insight into an important metabolic and mineral reaction pathway in subseafloor sediment.
We recovered bulk sediment and interstitial water at western North Atlantic sites during Expedition 223 on the R/V Knorr in November, 2014. The expedition targeted regions with predominantly oxic sediment and regions with predominantly anoxic sediment, ideal for investigating redox Fe cycling between solid and aqueous phases. At Site 10 (14.4008N, 50.6209W, 4455m water depth), interstitial dissolved oxygen is depleted within the upper few meters of sediment. At Site 12 (29.6767N, 58.3285W, 5637m water depth), interstitial dissolved oxygen is present throughout the cored sediment column (10s of meters).
Here we present total solid Fe concentration for 45 bulk sediment samples and total aqueous Fe and Mn concentrations for 50 interstitial water samples analyzed via ICP-ES. We additionally present Fe(II) and Fe(III) speciation results from 10 solid sediment samples determined by Mossbauer spectroscopy. We trace downcore fluctuations in Fe in solid and aqueous phases to understand Fe cycling in oxic, suboxic, and transitional regimes. Our preliminary data indicate that solid Fe concentration ranges from 4-6 wt % at the oxic site; aqueous Fe ranges from below detection to 20µM and aqueous Mn ranges from 1 to 125 µM at the anoxic site. In the anoxic sediment (Site 10), 86-90% of the total Fe is oxidized [Fe(III)] and 10-14% as reduced [Fe(II)], compared to 3-6% as reduced [Fe(II)] at the oxic site (Site 12), even in sediment as old as 25 million years.