Variability in the Concentration of Lithium in the Indo‐Pacific Ocean
Abstract: Lithium has limited biological activity and can readily replace aluminium, magnesium and iron ions in aluminosilicates, making it a proxy for the inorganic silicate cycle and its potential link to the carbon cycle. Data from the North Pacific Ocean, tropical Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean and Red Sea suggest that salinity normalized dissolved lithium concentrations vary by up to 2%–3% in the Indo‐Pacific Ocean. The highest lithium concentrations were measured in surface waters of remote North Pacific and Indian Ocean stations that receive relatively high fluxes of dust. The lowest dissolved lithium concentrations were measured just below the surface mixed layer of the stations with highest surface water concentrations, consistent with removal into freshly forming aluminium rich phases and manganese oxides. In the North Pacific, water from depths >2,000 m is slightly depleted in lithium compared to the initial composition of Antarctic Bottom Water, likely due to uptake of lithium by authigenically forming aluminosilicates. The results of this study suggest that the residence time of lithium in the ocean may be significantly shorter than calculated from riverine and hydrothermal fluxes.
Online Publication Date
National Science Foundation USA (0223378)