Global distribution of the Th-230 flux to ocean sediments constrained by GCM modelling

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Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers
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We have introduced a simple particle field into an existing and well-documented ocean general circulation model, This enables us to investigate the advection and scavenging of particle-reactive species within the water column. As a first use of this model, we have assessed the advection and flux to sediment of Th-230, a nuclide with a well understood marine chemistry that exhibits extreme particle reactivity. The flux to sediment of this nuclide is of interest as it is widely assumed to be related only to water depth, and therefore to act as a constant-flux indicator for marine sediments. By assuming an average settling velocity for marine particles of 3 mid, in good agreement with observational constraints, the model generates a particle field close to that observed. Thorium-230 is scavenged onto this particle field reversibly according to Kd values constrained by observations and incorporating a particle-concentration effect. This scavenging gives a good fit to the approximate to 900 literature water-column measurements of Th-230 suggesting that the model is advecting and removing Th-230 realistically. An exception to this is the Weddell Sea, where the model has too little ice cover and too much lateral mixing, which prevents it from duplicating the observed high Th-230 values. The model confirms that significant advection of Th-230 occurs and duplicates the low Th-230 values seen deep in the North Atlantic due to the advection of low-Th-230 surface waters to depth. Model-derived maps of the Th-230 flux to the sediment indicate that approximate to 70% of the ocean floor receives a Th-230 flux within 30% of that expected from production. In extremely non-productive regions, the flux can fall to as low as 0.4 times that expected for in situ scavenging, while highly productive regions have fluxes up to 1.6 times that expected. An additional model run using glacial circulation fields suggests that glacial Th-230 fluxes are similar to those in the Holocene except in regions close to sea ice. This is particularly true of the North Atlantic, where appreciably more scavenging occurs in the glacial run due to advection of Th-230 from the ice-covered Arctic, and because of reduced North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation. These ice-related effects mean that the area of ocean floor with Th-230 fluXeS within 30% of production falls to approximate to 60% for the glacial. The Holocene and Glacial flux maps allow an assessment of the accuracy of Th-230-derived sedimentation rates for existing and future studies. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


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