Productivity variation around the Crozet Plateau: A naturally iron fertilised area of the Southern Ocean

Maria T. Hernandez-Sanchez*, Hugh J. Venables, Rachel A. Mills, George Wolff, Elizabeth H. Fisher, Jens Holtvoeth, Melanie J. Leng, Richard D. Pancost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The Crozet Plateau is an area of interest as it is a region of the Southern Ocean where annual primary productivity is relatively high. We describe spatial and temporal variations in the biomarker distributions and carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures of organic matter formed within surface waters around the plateau during an algal bloom. In the centre of the bloom, diatom-derived sterols dominate, whereas alkenones are relatively more abundant outside and at the edge of the bloom. Bulk organic δ 13C and δ 15N values are enriched inside the bloom area, ranging from -18.7‰ to -17.6‰ and +1.6‰ to +3.7‰, respectively, compared to -25.7‰ to -20.9‰ and -2.0‰ to +1.3‰, respectively, outside the bloom area. Variation in bulk δ 15N values is attributed primarily to NH 3 or dissolved organic N uptake, with only a minor contribution from Rayleigh fractionation of the NO3- pool. Compound specific δ 13C values (cholest-5-en-3β-ol, cholesta-5,22-dien-3β-ol, 24-methylcholesta-5,22-dien-3β-ol, 24-methylcholesta-24(28)-dien-3β-ol and alkenones) are also enriched in the Fe fertilised region relative to other areas, presumably reflecting higher phytoplankton growth rate, consumption of dissolved inorganic carbon and perhaps more intense use of carbon concentrating mechanisms. The observations confirm previous interpretations that Fe fertilisation in the Crozet region has affected nutrient utilisation and the algal community structure; it also suggests that lipid biomarkers and their δ 13C values record a specific bloom signature that may be recorded in underlying sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-778
Number of pages12
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2010


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