Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-1-2004

Keywords

Cariaco Basin, denitrification, nitrogen isotopes

Abstract

We report N-15/N-14 measurements of water column nitrate and ammonium, sinking particles, and sediments from the Cariaco Basin, an anoxic marine basin off the coast of Venezuela. Water column denitrification occurring in the basin has only a very small isotopic imprint on nitrate in the basin because nitrate consumption is nearly complete in the actively denitrifying water near the oxic/anoxic interface (similar to275 m). Being free of a large denitrification signal, the delta(15)N of shallow thermocline nitrate is similar to3.5%, significantly lower than the mean deep ocean nitrate delta(15)N of 5%. This may be due to the nitrification of newly fixed N, whether it occurs within the basin or in open Atlantic waters that flow into the Cariaco over the sill. The N-15/N-14 of the sinking flux in the deepest trap (similar to1250 m) is similar to that of thermocline nitrate, as expected given the complete consumption of nitrate in the surface layer. Moreover, the N-15/N-14 of the seafloor sediment is similar to that of the sinking flux, as is common in environments of high export production, low O-2, and good organic matter preservation. Thus the modern Cariaco Basin records the N-15/N-14 of the thermocline nitrate, which, in turn, may record the input of newly fixed N to the upper ocean, be it local or more regional in origin.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Global Biogeochemical Cycles, v. 18, no. 3, article GB3001.

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