Particle-reactive radionuclides (Th-234, Pb-210, Po-210) as tracers for the estimation of export production in the South China Sea Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract. The time-series station, SEATS (18 N, 116 E) in the South China Sea was visited six times during October 2006December 2008 to carry out seawater sampling and floating trap deployments for the determination of distributions and fluxes of POC, PIC, PN, 234Th, 210Pb, and 210Po in the upper 200 m of the water column. Radionuclide deficiencies resulted in removal fluxes from the euphotic layer of 1.11031.8103 dpm m2d1 and 7.140.2 dpm m2d1 for 234Th and 210Po, respectively. Due to atmospheric input, an excess of 210Pb relative to 226Ra is commonly observed in the upper water column. Sinking fluxes of total mass, POC, PIC, PN, 234Th, 210Pb, and 210Po measured at the euphotic depth were low in summer-fall and high in winter-spring, reflecting the seasonal variability of biological pumping. Excluding the suspiciously low primary productivity data point in July 2007, a relatively high e-ratio of 0.280.69 was estimated by the ratio of the POC flux at the euphotic depth and the integrated primary productivity. The ratios of 234Th, 210Pb, and 210Po to organic carbon, inorganic carbon, and nitrogen in the sinking particles were combined with the disequilibria of 234Th238U, 210Pb226Ra, and 210Po210Pb to estimate export fluxes of POC, PIC, and PN from the euphotic layer. Compared with measured fluxes by the sediment trap and estimated fluxes by other approaches, it is concluded that the export production in the South China Sea, ranging from 1.8 to 21.3 mmol-C m2d1, can be reasonably estimated using 234Th, 210Pb, and 210Po as carbon proxies.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Wei, C., Lin, S., Sheu, D., Chou, W., Yi, M., Santschi, P. H., & Wen, L.

citation count

  • 62

complete list of authors

  • Wei, C-L||Lin, S-Y||Sheu, D-D||Chou, W-C||Yi, M-C||Santschi, PH||Wen, L-S

publication date

  • December 2011