Decoupling of particles and dissolved iron downstream of Greenlandic glacier outflows

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Glaciers can be a significant and locally dominant source of iron (Fe), a biologically essential micronutrient, in high latitude coastal seas. The vast majority of this glacial Fe delivery is associated with particles, yet the speciation of the solid-phase Fe and specifically the relationships that govern exchange between particulate and dissolved Fe phases in these environments are poorly described. In this work, we performed measurements of in situ dissolved Fe (dFe) along meltwater and particle plumes in three transects around Disko Bay and Ameralik Fjord (West Greenland). Measurements of dFe were combined with Fe K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy analysis of ∼40 suspended sediment samples obtained from the same transects and from select depth profiles down to 300 m. We observed relatively constant dFe levels (4 to 10 nM for nearly all dFe measurements) across fjords with widely varying particulate Fe(II) contents (from 20 to 90% Fe(II)), indicating that dFe concentrations had little dependence on the oxidation state of Fe in the suspended sediment. Particulate Fe data were grouped by underlying bedrock geology, with suspended sediment consisting of 80-90% biotite-like Fe(II) in fjords with Precambrian shield geology and poorly-ordered Fe(III) particles (<20-30% Fe(II)) in one fjord with suspended sediments derived from tertiary basalts. Our characterization data indicated no significant change in the average Fe oxidation state and bonding environment of particles along the fjord transects, implying that Fe(II) in biotite-like coordination is not a readily labile Fe form on this spatial scale. Our results suggest that dFe in these glacially-modified coastal waters is buffered at a relatively constant low nM concentration due to factors other than particle Fe mineralogy and that glacier-derived Fe phases are relatively inert on this spatial scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117234
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Fe speciation, glacial meltwater, suspended sediment, X-ray absorption spectroscopy

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