Magnitude and composition of sinking particulate phosphorus fluxes in Santa Barbara Basin, California

Authors

  • Emily Sekula-Wood,

    1. Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
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  • Claudia R. Benitez-Nelson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
    2. Marine Science Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
    • Corresponding author: C. R. Benitez-Nelson, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of South Carolina, 701 Sumter St., EWS 408, Columbia, SC 29208, USA. (cbnelson@geol.sc.edu)

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  • Melissa A. Bennett,

    1. Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
    2. Marine Science Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
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  • Robert Thunell

    1. Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
    2. Marine Science Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
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Abstract

[1] The composition and bioavailability of particulate P influence marine biological community production on both modern and geologic time-scales, and continental margins play a critical role in the supply, modification, and storage of particulate P. This study examined particulate P cycling in the Santa Barbara Basin (SBB) off the coast of southern California using a ∼520 m deep-moored sediment trap deployed from 1993–2006 and a sediment core collected in 2005 directly beneath the sediment trap at 590 m. Total particulate P (TPP), particulate inorganic P (PIP), and particulate organic P (POP) were quantified using a 5-step sequential extraction method (SEDEX) that chemically separates PIP into loosely bound, oxide-bound, authigenic, and detrital P phases. POP fluxes, while similar in magnitude to other coastal regions (22 ± 10 μmol m−2 d−1) were a small component of the TPP pool (15%). Seasonal trends revealed significant increases in POP fluxes during upwelling due to increased biological production in surface waters by organisms that increased mineral ballast. High particulate organic carbon (POC) to POP ratios (337 ± 18) further indicated rapid and efficient remineralization of POP relative to POC as particles sank through the oxic water column; however, further reduction of POP ceased in the deeper anoxic waters. Loosely bound, oxide-bound, and authigenic P, dominated the TPP pool, with PIP fluxes substantially higher than those measured in other coastal settings. Strong correlations between oxide-associated, authigenic, and detrital P fluxes with lithogenic material indicated a terrestrial source associated with riverine discharge. Furthermore, more than 30% of the loosely bound and oxide-bound P was remineralized prior to burial, with the magnitude of dissolution far exceeding that of POP. These results highlight the dynamic nature of the particulate P pool in coastal ecosystems and how changes in P source can alter the composition and lability of P that enters coastal waters.

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