Chromium stable isotope distributions in the southwest Pacific Ocean and constraints on hydrothermal input from the Kermadec Arc

David J. Janssen*, Delphine Gilliard, Jörg Rickli, Philipp Nasemann, Andrea Koschinsky, Christel S. Hassler, Andrew R. Bowie, Michael J. Ellwood, Charlotte Kleint, Samuel L. Jaccard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Special attention has been given to chromium (Cr) as a paleoproxy tracing redox cycling throughout Earth's history, due to differences in the solubility of its primary redox species at Earth's surface (Cr(III) and Cr(VI)) and isotope fractionation associated with their interconversion. In turn, chromium's paleoproxy potential has motivated studies of the modern ocean to better understand which processes drive its cycling and to constrain their impact on the Cr isotope composition (δ53Cr) of seawater. Here, we present total dissolved seawater Cr concentrations and δ53Cr along the GEOTRACES GP13 section. This section is a zonal transect extending from Australia in the subtropical southwest Pacific Ocean. Surface signals of local biological Cr cycling are minimal, in agreement with distributions of dissolved major nutrients as well as biologically-controlled trace metals in this low productivity, oligotrophic environment. Depth profiles have Cr concentration minima in surface waters and maxima at depth, and are largely shaped by the advection of nutrient- and Cr-rich subsurface waters rather than vertically-driven processes. Samples close to the sediment–water interface indicate important benthic Cr fluxes across the section. The GP13 transect crosses the hydrothermally-active Kermadec Arc. Hydrothermal fluids (consisting of <15% background seawater) were collected from three venting sites at the Brothers Volcano (along the Kermadec Arc). These fluids yielded near-crustal δ53Cr values (−0.17 to +0.08‰) and elevated [Cr] (7.5–23 nmol kg−1, hydrothermal endmember [Cr] ≈ 8–27 nmol kg−1), indicating that the Kermadec Arc may be an isotopically light Cr source. Dissolved [Fe] enrichments have been reported previously in deep waters (∼1600–3000 m) along the GP13 transect, east of the Kermadec Arc. These same waters show elevated [Cr] compared to Circumpolar Deep Water ([Cr] = 3.88 ± 0.11, δ53Cr = 0.89 ± 0.08, n = 32), with an average [Cr] accumulation of 0.71 ± 0.11 nmol kg−1 (1 SD), and an estimated δ53Cr of +0.46 ± 0.30‰ (2 SD, n = 9) for the accumulated Cr. Comparing high-temperature vent and neutrally buoyant plume data, hydrothermal-sourced Cr is likely negligable compared to Cr contributions from other processes (benthic fluxes, release from particles), and the advection of more Cr-rich Pacific Deep Water. It is unlikely that hydrothermal vents would be a major contributor within the regional or global biogeochemical Cr cycle, even if hydrothermal fluxes change by orders of magnitude, and therefore δ53Cr trends in the paleorecord may be attributable, at least in part, to major changes in other controls on Cr (e.g. widespread anoxia).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


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