Research paper published by the "Hydrothermal energy transfer and the ocean carbon cycle" SCOR-IR WG members

C.R. German, L.L. Legendre, S.G. Sander, N. Niquil, G.W. Luther III, L. Bharati, X. Han & N. Le Bris (2015) Hydrothermal Fe cycling and deep ocean organic carbon scavenging: Model-based evidence for significant POC supply to seafloor sediments. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 419:143-153

Support for this work was provided by the Scientific Committee for Ocean Research and InterRidge through joint funding of Working Group 135: Hydrothermal Energy Transfer and its Impact on Ocean Carbon Cycles (; SCOR support was derived from grants OCE-0938349 and OCE-1243377 from the U.S. National Science Foundation, and from national SCOR committees.


Submarine hydrothermal venting has recently been identified to have the potential to impact ocean
biogeochemistry at the global scale. This is the case because processes active in hydrothermal plumes are so vigorous that the residence time of the ocean, with respect to cycling through hydrothermal plumes, is comparable to that of deep ocean mixing caused by thermohaline circulation. Recently, it has been argued that seafloor venting may provide a significant source of bio-essential Fe to the oceans as the result of a close coupling between Fe and organic carbon in hydrothermal plumes. But a complementary question remains to be addressed: does this same intimate Fe–C org association in hydrothermal plumes cause any related impact to the global C cycle? To address this, SCOR-InterRidge Working Group 135 developed a modeling approach to synthesize site-specific field data from the East Pacific Rise 9 ◦ 50  N hydrothermal field, where the range of requisite data sets is most complete, and combine those inputs with global estimates for dissolved Fe inputs from venting to the oceans to establish a coherent model with which to investigate hydrothermal C org cycling. The results place new constraints on submarine Fe vent fluxes worldwide, including an indication that the majority of Fe supplied to hydrothermal plumes should come from entrainment of diffuse flow. While this same entrainment is not predicted to enhance the supply of dissolved organic carbon to hydrothermal plumes by more than ∼ 10% over background values, what the model does indicate is that scavenging of carbon in association with Fe-rich hydrothermal plume particles should play a significant role in the delivery of particulate organic carbon to deep ocean sediments, worldwide.

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