Geophysical Research Letters

Calcium carbonate as ikaite crystals in Antarctic sea ice



[1] We report on the discovery of the mineral ikaite (CaCO3·6H2O) in sea-ice from the Southern Ocean. The precipitation of CaCO3 during the freezing of seawater has previously been predicted from thermodynamic modelling, indirect measurements, and has been documented in artificial sea ice during laboratory experiments but has not been reported for natural sea-ice. It is assumed that CaCO3 formation in sea ice may be important for a sea ice-driven carbon pump in ice-covered oceanic waters. Without direct evidence of CaCO3 precipitation in sea ice, its role in this and other processes has remained speculative. The discovery of CaCO3·6H2O crystals in natural sea ice provides the necessary evidence for the evaluation of previous assumptions and lays the foundation for further studies to help elucidate the role of ikaite in the carbon cycle of the seasonally sea ice-covered regions