210Po and 210Pb disequilibrium at the PN section in the East China Sea

Research paper by Kaijun Su, Jinzhou Du, Mark Baskaran, Jing Zhang

Indexed on: 08 Aug '16Published on: 05 Aug '16Published in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity


Lead-210 and 210Po have been widely used as tracers for quantifying particulate scavenging in the upper layer of the oceanic water column. In this study, we investigated the 210Po/210Pb disequilibrium in the water column of the PN section in the East China Sea (ECS) during autumn 2013. In most of the water column, a deficiency of 210Po was observed with respect to its parent nuclide 210Pb (i.e., a 210Po/210Pb activity ratio < 1.0). The (210Po/210Pb)dissolved, (210Po/210Pb)particulate and (210Po/210Pb)total activity ratios ranged from 0.29 to 0.71 (average: 0.53 ± 0.13, n = 27), 0.31 to 1.42 (average: 0.70 ± 0.27, n = 27) and 0.22 to 0.62 (average: 0.50 ± 0.12, n = 27), respectively. The distribution coefficients (Kd) of 210Po and 210Pb were 12.1× 104 ml g−1 and 8.8× 104 ml g−1, with an average (210Po/210Pb) total activity ratio of (0.50 ± 0.12, n = 27). However, over the continental shelf, planktonic detritus and fecal pellets appear to be the main carriers for 210Po, which preferentially scavenges 210Po and produces a lower (210Po/210Pb) total activity ratio (0.49 ± 0.12, n = 22) with a Kd for 210Po of 13.8× 104 ml g−1 in the water column. The variations in the fractionation factor (1.48 ± 0.66) of 210Po/210Pb reveal distinct differences between the distribution and scavenging of 210Po and 210Pb by particulate matter in different marine environments: in the estuarine zone (a high turbidity area), terrigenous suspended particulate matter scavenges 210Pb from the water column, while in areas dominated by biogenic particular matter, 210Po is preferentially scavenged from the water column. Using the 210Po/210Pb disequilibrium in the water column, we estimated the removal fluxes of POC from the upper waters downward to be 25.0 mg C m−2 d−1, comparable to those in other marginal seas. Moreover, a decreasing trend of POC removal fluxes was observed with increasing distance offshore.

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