IronEx-I, an in situ iron-enrichment experiment

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Coale, K. H., Johnson, K. S., Fitzwater, S. E., Blain, S. P. G., Stanton, T. P., & Coley, T. L. (1998). IronEx-I, an in situ iron-enrichment experiment: Experimental design, implementation and results. Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 45(6), 919-945. doi:10.1016/S0967-0645(98)00019-8
TitleIronEx-I, an in situ iron-enrichment experiment
AuthorsH. Coale, S. Johnson, E. Fitzwater, G. Blain, P. Stanton, L. Coley
AbstractAn in situ iron-enrichment experiment near the Galapagos Islands was performed in October 1993. Here we report the theoretical and practical considerations of creating such a patch of iron-enriched surface water, as well as the strategies employed for the detection of the patch and the biological and chemical signals which developed, in an area dominated by advective processes. Physical and chemical models were used to predict the speciation, solubility, and the final concentration of iron in surface waters injected with acidic iron sulfate. A trial injection off the California coast in which 800 L of a 0.5 M FeSO4 were introduced into the ship's wake over a 1.5 km2 area, was used to test these predictions. Iron concentrations were determined continually onboard during the initial experiment as the ship steamed in transects through the enriched patch. The results indicate excellent spatial agreement with model predictions and final concentrations that were consistent with the chemical model. However, the use of a Cartesian coordinate system during rejection resulted in an extremely compressed, heterogeneous patch. Results from this preliminary experiment were then applied towards the development and implementation of the first open ocean iron enrichment experiment (IronEx I) near the Galapagos Islands in October 1993. The development and results of these methodologies are presented. In the IronEx I equatorial experiment, a Lagrangian coordinate system was established using a drogued buoy (equipped with GPS and packet radio) and the iron-enriched area (64 km2 containing 443 kg of Fe) was tagged with the inert chemical tracer sulfurhexafluoride (SF6). This strategy resulted in a fairly rectangular, homogeneous enriched patch initially detectable by both Fe and SF6 determination. Shipboard analysis and airborne observations confirmed good spatial agreement between the Lagrangian drifter and the biological and chemical signatures in the patch. Biological and chemical sampling of the enriched area showed an increase in chlorophyll, primary production, biomass and photosynthetic energy conversion efficiency relative to waters outside the patch, supporting the hypothesis that iron limits phytoplankton growth and biomass in a 'bottom up' manner in this area. The ability to create a coherent patch and track it over time led to this first open-ocean test of the iron hypothesis.
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Start page919
End page945
Subjectschemical oceanography, experimental design, iron, nutrient enrichment, research program, surface water, Pacific Ocean
NoteCited By (since 1996):42, CODEN: DSROE