Sands, C.M., Connelly, D.P., Statham, P.J. and German, C.R.
Size fractionation of trace metals in the Edmond hydrothermal plume, Central Indian Ocean
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 319-320, . (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2011.12.031).
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The investigation of the distribution of trace elements between the dissolved, colloidal and particulate phases within a hydrothermal plume is key to understanding plume processes. Particulate and colloidal size fractions of four trace elements (iron, manganese, copper and phosphorus) along with the dissolved size fraction of iron, manganese and copper have been determined in the hydrothermal plume overlying the Edmond vent-site in the Central Indian Ocean. Dissolved iron and manganese are the most heavily enriched metals in hydrothermal fluids emerging from vents and iron plays a significant role in subsequent dissolved-particulate interactions within hydrothermal plumes. Copper and phosphorus are each representative members of discrete groups of tracers (chalcophile elements and oxyanions, respectively) that are known to exhibit distinct patterns of behaviour, relative to iron, within hydrothermal plumes. Here we show that iron is present in all three hydrothermal plume fractions (dissolved, colloidal and particulate), being least abundant in dissolved form. Manganese resides predominantly in the dissolved fraction, copper resides primarily in the particulate phase and phosphorus is abundant in both the colloidal and coarser particulate phases, but not the dissolved fraction. The correlation of phosphorus to iron in the Edmond hydrothermal plume is both (i) constant across the colloidal and coarser particulate phases and (ii) matches well to broader inter-ocean trends reported previously from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. These results demonstrate a mechanism whereby plume-height P:Fe ratios are established during the very earliest stages of dissolved Fe(II) oxidation, followed by aggregation into coarser hydrothermal plume particles. This provides a strong argument for the study of P:Fe ratios in hydrothermal sediments as potential paleotracers of deep-water dissolved phosphate distributions and, hence, past deep-ocean circulation patterns.
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