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^(230)Th-^(232)Th systematics in the central Pacific Ocean: The sources and the fates of thorium

Roy-Barman, M. and Chen, J. H. and Wasserburg, G. J. (1996) ^(230)Th-^(232)Th systematics in the central Pacific Ocean: The sources and the fates of thorium. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 139 (3-4). pp. 351-363. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/0012-821X(96)00017-9.

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^(232)Th and ^(230)Th of unfiltered and filtered sea water samples were measured along a depth profile of the central Pacific Ocean using isotopic dilution and thermal ionization mass spectrometry. The ^(232)Th concentration is rather constant from below 25 m down to over 2000 m (45–60 × 10^6 atom cm^(−3)) and it then increases rapidly towards the bottom (119–360 × 10^6 atom cm^(−3) at 4000 m). The ^(230)Th concentration increases linearly with depth from 3 × 10^3 atom cm^(−3) at 25 m to 110 × 10^3 atom cm^(−3) at 4000 m. The reproducibility of replicate analyses and the regularity of the profiles demonstrate the reliability of the procedure. However, some lack of reproducibility among different samples from the same depth has to be explained by natural variability or by contamination during sample collection. Due to the very low ^(232)Th concentrations and relatively high ^(230)Th concentrations, the ^(230)Th/^(232)Th ratios can be as high as 1.6 × 10^(−3). The ratio of the amount of Th on particles (> 0.2 μm) to the amount of Th in solution is significantly higher for ^(232)Th (≈ 0.37) than for ^(230)Th (≈ 0.18). These data are interpreted in terms of a model that specifically treats particle transport assuming local equilibrium between particles and sea water. The relatively high ^(230)Th concentrations and ^(230)Th/^(232)Th ratios measured at 25 m are consistent with a mixed layer of about 100 m. The linear increase in ^(230)Th with depth implies that the effect of eddy diffusion is negligible for most of the water column over the Th removal time scale. This profile is consistent with transport of ^(230)Th by reversible uptake on particles settling with a constant velocity. The ^(232)Th data are inconsistent with this model and they suggest that particles carrying ^(232)Th experience 70% of mass loss between the surface and 4000 m and must follow different transport rules. This difference in the transport of ^(230)Th and ^(232)Th demonstrates the distinctive behavior of these isotopes during particle formation and subsequent remineralization and repackaging in the water column. Different speciation of ^(230)Th and ^(232)Th may be explained by their distinctive sources in the ocean (as ^(230)Th is produced in solution and ^(232)Th is carried by detrital material) and by their respective packaging mechanisms, which are not yet known.

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Wasserburg, G. J.0000-0002-7957-8029
Additional Information:© 1996 Elsevier Science B.V. Received 3 August 1995; accepted 26 January 1996. We thank D. Papanastassiou for recently improving the abundance sensitivity of the mass spectrometer Lunatic I by an order of magnitude, which enabled the use of this instrument for the work presented here. The authors are grateful to L. Tupas, D. Redel, C. Nosse and the Captain and crew of the R/V Moana Wave for their hospitality and assistance in sample collection. We thank P. Andersson for his many interesting discussions. L. Tupas kindly provided unpublished data from the HOT cruises. We thank K. Turekian for discussing the Th transport and packaging problems and generously providing a detailed constructive critique of this report. An unidentified reviewer provided many useful criticisms. A third reviewer did not feel this work merited publication. J. Edmond pointed out that particle reformation and packaging may be active throughout the water column. This work was supported by Department of Energy Grant DE-FG03-88ER13851. [MK]
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-FG03-88ER13851
Subject Keywords:Central Pacific; Th-230; Th-232; sea water; mass spectroscopy; particles
Issue or Number:3-4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131115-094713692
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Official Citation:M. Roy-Barman, J.H. Chen, G.J. Wasserburg, 230Th232Th systematics in the central Pacific Ocean: The sources and the fates of thorium, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 139, Issues 3–4, April 1996, Pages 351-363, ISSN 0012-821X, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:42488
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:15 Nov 2013 18:34
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:23

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