Upwelled hydrothermal iron stimulates massive phytoplankton blooms in the Southern Ocean

Joint Science Highlight with US-Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry (US-OCB).

In a recent study, Ardyna et al (2019, see reference below) combined observations of profiling floats with historical trace element data and satellite altimetry and ocean color data from the Southern Ocean to reveal that dissolved iron (Fe) of hydrothermal origin can be upwelled to the surface. Furthermore, the activity of deep hydrothermal sources can influence upper ocean biogeochemical cycles of the Southern Ocean, and in particular stimulate the biological carbon pump.

Figure: Southern Ocean phytoplankton blooms showing distribution, biomass (circle size) and type (color key). Adapted from Ardyna, et al., 2019. Click on the figure to view it larger.


Ardyna, M., Lacour, L., Sergi, S., d’Ovidio, F., Sallée, J.-B., Rembauville, M., Blain, S., Tagliabue, A., Schlitzer, R., Jeandel, C., Arrigo, K.R., Claustre, H. (2019). Hydrothermal vents trigger massive phytoplankton blooms in the Southern Ocean. Nature Communications, 10(1), 2451. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09973-6

Latest highlights

Overlooked riverine contributions of dissolved neodymium and hafnium to the Amazon estuary and oceans

Xu and colleagues investigated the isotopic composition of dissolved neodymium and hafnium along the entire salinity gradient of the Amazon estuary.

Pulling back the veil on reversible scavenging of lead

This work further contains the role that reversible scavenging may play in the cycling of lead in the ocean, an ever-evolving global experiment where lead contamination can be tracked in real-time.

Extremely high radioactive levels in the manganese nodules

Volz and co-authors demonstrate that radioisotopes in the manganese nodules mostly exceed exempt activity levels…

The North Pacific Ocean, a key actor for the zinc oceanic cycle

Sieber and his colleagues lift the veil on some of the mechanisms that control the behavior of zinc in the Pacific Ocean, and more globally.