Concentrations, ratios, and sinking fluxes of major bioelements at Ocean Station Papa

Montserrat Roca-Martí, Claudia R. Benitez-Nelson, Blaire P. Umhau, Abigale M. Wyatt, Samantha J. Clevenger, Steven Pike, Tristan J. Horner, Margaret L. Estapa, Laure Resplandy, Ken O. Buesseler

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10 Scopus citations


Fluxes of major bioelements associated with sinking particles were quantified in late summer 2018 as part of the EXport Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing (EXPORTS) field campaign near Ocean Station Papa in the subarctic northeast Pacific. The thorium-234 method was used in conjunction with size-fractionated (1-5, 5-51, and >51 mm) concentrations of particulate nitrogen (PN), total particulate phosphorus (TPP), biogenic silica (bSi), and particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) collected using large volume filtration via in situ pumps. We build upon recent work quantifying POC fluxes during EXPORTS. Similar remineralization length scales were observed for both POC and PN across all particle size classes from depths of 50-500 m. Unlike bSi and PIC, the soft tissue-associated POC, PN, and TPP fluxes strongly attenuated from 50 m to the base of the euphotic zone (approximately 120 m). Cruise-average thorium-234-derived fluxes (mmol m-2 d-1) at 120 m were 1.7 + 0.6 for POC, 0.22 + 0.07 for PN, 0.019 + 0.007 for TPP, 0.69 + 0.26 for bSi, and 0.055 + 0.022 for PIC. These bioelement fluxes were similar to previous observations at this site, with the exception of PIC, which was 1 to 2 orders of magnitude lower. Transfer efficiencies within the upper twilight zone (flux 220 m/flux 120 m) were highest for PIC (84%) and bSi (79%), followed by POC (61%), PN (58%), and TPP (49%). These differences indicate preferential remineralization of TPP relative to POC or PN and larger losses of soft tissue relative to biominerals in sinking particles below the euphotic zone. Comprehensive characterization of the particulate bioelement fluxes obtained here will support future efforts linking phytoplankton community composition and food-web dynamics to the composition, magnitude, and attenuation of material that sinks to deeper waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 28 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


  • Bioelements
  • Biological pump
  • Particulate fluxes
  • Size-fractionated particles
  • Transfer efficiency


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