Biogeochemical Processes in the Ross Sea (Antarctica): Present Knowledge and Perspectives

  • M. Frignani
  • L. Langone
  • L. Labbrozzi
  • M. Ravaioli

Abstract

Fluxes of particles, biogenic silica and organic carbon through the water column were obtained at three sites in the northwestern Ross Sea using 238U/234Th disequilibrium, drifting traps, and moored sediment traps. Burial rates of biogenic components were calculated by determining sediment mass accumulation rates, while inferences on the past evolution of the system were obtained through the record stored in sediments. Particle flux was characterized by a high seasonality and was strictly dependent on the ice coverage. Furthermore, the data suggested a high interannual variability and a rapid sinking of particles, which implies a minimal degradation of the material, mainly aggregates and faecal pellets, below the euphotic zone. High fluxes, measured occasionally, were linked to particular post-bloom conditions or to the presence of marginal ice. Time lags between production and trap collection can be explained by post-bloom mechanisms. Sediments at mooring sites, A B and C showed different lithologies, with C representing conditions of no present sediment accumulation. Composition, density and structure of benthic communities also differed significantly, mostly as a function of water depth. Fluxes from the water column at both mooring sites, A and B, did not account for sediment accumulation and burial rates of the biogenic components, hence lateral advection must have provided important contributions. Depth profiles of magnetic susceptibility and biogenic components in cores showed a dramatic change corresponding to the onset of present seasonally open marine sedimentation. Present-day fluxes of biogenic silica and organic carbon were higher in the Joides basin than in the Drygalski basin and other areas of the northwestern Ross Sea. The results of various research approaches are discussed in the framework of the present knowledge of processes in the Ross Sea, and views on the perspectives of the research are suggested.

Keywords

Chlorophyll Siliceous Uranium Sedimentation Radionuclide 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Frignani
  • L. Langone
  • L. Labbrozzi
  • M. Ravaioli
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di Geologia Marina (CNR)BolognaItaly

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