Fluxes and composition of settling particles during summer in an Antarctic shallow bay of Livingston Island, South Shetlands

Research paper by Enrique Isla, Albert Palanques, Victor Alvà, P. Puig, J. Guillén

Indexed on: 01 Sep '01Published on: 01 Sep '01Published in: Polar biology


A moored experiment using a sediment trap was conducted at Johnson's Dock, Livingston Island from 11 December 1997 to 24 February 1998, as part of the EASIZ Programme activities carried out at the Juan Carlos I Spanish Antarctic base. Total mass vertical fluxes ranged from 23,235 mg m–2 day–1 to 89,073 mg m–2 day–1 during the experiment, with a mean value of 42,857 mg m–2 day–1. Lithogenic components were the major contributors to the settling particulate flux. Organic components accounted for a low fraction of the settling particulate matter, showing an inverse relation to total mass flux. Nevertheless, the fluxes of organic components at Johnson's Dock are as high as in the open sea. The increases in chlorophyll a in water were related to increases in the organic carbon content, which dominated over inorganic carbon during the whole experiment. Calcium carbonate particles settle without being significantly altered in the water column and are dissolved in the upper centimetres of the bottom sediments, once they are buried. The settling material consisted of fine particles, with coarse clasts transported by icebergs. Antarctic shallow environments receive important sediment fluxes from the erosion and transport action of ice.