Moored sediment trap measurements of carbon export in the Subantarctic and Polar Frontal zones of the Southern Ocean, south of Australia


  • T. W. Trull,

  • S. G. Bray,

  • S. J. Manganini,

  • S. Honjo,

  • R. François


Sediment trap moorings were deployed from September 21, 1997 through February 21, 1998 at three locations south of Australia along 140°E: at ∼47°S in the central Subantarctic Zone (SAZ) with traps at 1060, 2050, and 3850 m depth, at ∼51°S in the Subantarctic Front with one trap at 3080 m, and at ∼54°S in the Polar Frontal Zone (PFZ) with traps at 830 and 1580 m. Particle fluxes were high at all the sites (18–32 g m−2 yr−1 total mass and 0.5–1.4 g organic carbon m−2 yr−1 at −1000 m, assuming minimal flux outside the sampled summer period). These values are similar to other Southern Ocean results and to the median estimated for the global ocean by Lampitt and Antia [1997], and emphasize that the Southern Ocean exports considerable carbon to the deep sea despite its “high-nutrient, low chlorophyll” characteristics. The SAZ site was dominated by carbonate (>50% of total mass) and the PFZ site by biogenic silica (>50% of total mass). Both sites exhibited high export in spring and late summer, with an intervening low flux period in December. For the 153 day collection period, particulate organic carbon export was somewhat higher in all the traps in the SAZ (range 0.57–0.84 gC m−2) than in the PFZ (range 0.31–0.53), with an intermediate value observed at the SAF (0.60). The fraction of surface organic carbon export (estimated from seasonal nutrient depletion, Lourey and Trull [2001]) reaching 1000 m was indistinguishable in the SAZ and PFZ, despite different algal communities.