Major processes of the dissolved cobalt cycle in the North and equatorial Pacific Ocean Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract. Over the past decade, the GEOTRACES and wider trace metal geochemical community has made substantial contributions towards constraining the marine cobalt (Co) cycle and its major biogeochemical processes. However, few Co speciation studies have been conducted in the North and equatorial Pacific Ocean, a vast portion of the world's oceans by volume and an important end-member of deep thermohaline circulation. Dissolved Co (dCo) samples, including total dissolved and labile Co, were measured at-sea during the GEOTRACES Pacific Meridional Transect (GP15) expedition along the 152W longitudinal from 56N to 20S. Along this transect, upper-ocean dCo (0<26) was linearly correlated with dissolved phosphate (slope=823, mol:mol) due to phytoplankton uptake and remineralization. As depth increased, dCo concentrations became increasingly decoupled from phosphate concentrations due to co-scavenging with manganese oxide particles in the mesopelagic. The transect revealed an organically bound coastal source of dCo to the Alaskan Stream associated with low-salinity waters. An intermediate-depth hydrothermal flux of dCo was observed off the Hawaiian coast at the Loihi Seamount, and the elevated dCo was correlated with potential xs3He at and above the vent site; however, the Loihi Seamount likely did not represent a major source of Co to the Pacific basin. Elevated concentrations of dCo within oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) in the equatorial North and South Pacific were consistent with the suppression of oxidative scavenging, and we estimate that future deoxygenation could increase the OMZ dCo inventory by 18% to 36% over the next century. In Pacific Deep Water (PDW), a fraction of elevated ligand-bound dCo appeared protected from scavenging by the high biogenic particle flux in the North Pacific basin. This finding is counter to previous expectations of low dCo concentrations in the deep Pacific due to scavenging over thermohaline circulation. Compared to a Co global biogeochemical model, the observed transect displayed more extreme inventories and fluxes of dCo than predicted by the model, suggesting a highly dynamic Pacific Co cycle.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Chmiel, R., Lanning, N., Laubach, A., Lee, J., Fitzsimmons, J., Hatta, M., ... Saito, M.

complete list of authors

  • Chmiel, Rebecca||Lanning, Nathan||Laubach, Allison||Lee, Jong-Mi||Fitzsimmons, Jessica||Hatta, Mariko||Jenkins, William||Lam, Phoebe||McIlvin, Matthew||Tagliabue, Alessandro||Saito, Mak

publication date

  • May 2022