Aquatic Geochemistry

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 565–591 | Cite as

Manganese Sources and Sinks in the Arctic Ocean with Reference to Periodic Enrichments in Basin Sediments

  • Robie W. MacdonaldEmail author
  • Charles Gobeil
Original Paper


Between 1990 and 2007, twenty-nine box cores were recovered within the Arctic Ocean spanning shelf, slope and basin locations, and analyzed for aluminum (Al), manganese (Mn), other inorganic components and organic carbon (COrg). Using these core data together with literature values, we have constructed budgets for Al and Mn in the Arctic Ocean. Most of the Al and Mn entering the Arctic comes from rivers or coastal erosion, and almost all of these two elements is trapped within the Arctic. Total Mn distributions in sediments reflect the recycling and loss of much of the Mn from shelf sediments with ultimate burial over the slopes and in basins. Mn enrichments observed as bands in long cores from the basins appear to co-occur with inter-glacial periods. Our Mn budget suggests that change in sea level associated with the accumulation and melting of glaciers is a likely cause for the banding. The Arctic Ocean, which presently contains as much as 50% shelf area, loses most of that when global sea level falls by ~120 m during glacial maxima. With lower sea level, Mn input from rivers and coastal erosion declines, and inputs become stored in permafrost on the sub-aerial shelves or at the shelf margin. Sea-level rise re-establishes coastal erosion and large riverine inputs at the margin and initiates the remobilization of Mn stored on shelves by turning on algal productivity, which provides the COrg required to reduce sedimentary Mn oxyhydroxides.


Arctic Ocean Manganese Aluminum Budget Sediments 



Financial support over the period of core collection came from several sources including the Northern Oil and Gas Action Program (NOGAP) of Indian and Northern Affairs, with ship-time support from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We gratefully acknowledge the Canadian IPY Program and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for their support to collect cores widely in 2007–2008. We also thank L. Beaudin and S. Jobidon for support in the laboratory, D. Dubien for technical assistance at sea, L. Rancourt for research assistance and P. Kimber for producing the diagrams. We thank two anonymous reviewers who provided clear and very helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and OceansInstitute of Ocean SciencesSidneyCanada
  2. 2.INRS-ETEUniversité du QuébecQuebecCanada

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