Because ocean circulation impacts global heat transport, understanding the relationship between deep ocean circulation and climate is important for predicting the ocean's role in climate change. A common approach to reconstruct ocean circulation patterns employs the neodymium isotope compositions of authigenic phases recovered from marine sediments. In this approach, mild chemical extractions of these phases is thought to yield information regarding the εNd of the bottom waters that are in contact with the underlying sediment package. However, recent pore fluid studies present evidence for neodymium cycling within the upper portions of the marine sediment package that drives a significant benthic flux of neodymium to the ocean. This internal sedimentary cycling has the potential to obfuscate any relationship between the neodymium signature recovered from the authigenic coating and the overlying neodymium signature of the seawater. For this manuscript, we present sedimentary leach results from three sites on the Oregon margin in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Our goal is to examine the potential mechanisms controlling the exchange of Nd between the sedimentary package and the overlying water column, as well as the relationship between the εNd composition of authigenic sedimentary coatings and that of the pore fluid. In our comparison of the neodymium concentrations and isotope compositions from the total sediment, sediment leachates, and pore fluid we find that the leachable components account for about half of the total solid-phase Nd, therefore representing a significant reservoir of reactive Nd within the sediment package. Based on these and other data, we propose that sediment diagenesis determines the εNd of the pore fluid, which in turn controls the εNd of the bottom water. Consistent with this notion, despite having 1 to 2 orders of magnitude greater Nd concentration than the bottom water, the pore fluid is still <0.001% of the total Nd reservoir in the upper sediment column. Therefore, the pore fluid reservoir is too small to maintain a unique signature, and instead must be controlled by the larger reservoir of Nd in the reactive coatings. In addition, to achieve mass balance, we find it necessary to invoke a cryptic radiogenic (εNd of +10) trace mineral source of neodymium within the upper sediment column at our sites. When present, this cryptic trace metal results in more radiogenic pore fluid.
- benthic flux
- ocean circulation