GEOTRACES intercalibration of the stable silicon isotope composition of dissolved silicic acid in seawater

Dissolved silicon (Si) is a major oceanic nutrient and variations of its stable isotope values are reflecting the intensity of surface primary production. As for other isotopes, agreement between the different laboratories is crucial. Here, the first intercalibration study of the stable silicon (Si) isotopes in seawater (δ30Si(OH)4) is presented as a contribution to the international GEOTRACES programme.

Eleven laboratories from seven countries participated in the study. Si isotope measurements were performed on three different mass spectrometer types Neptune MC-ICP-MS, Nu Plasma MC-ICP-MS and a MAT 252 IRMS.

Two seawater samples from the North Pacific subtropical gyre (Station ALOHA) collected at 300 m (9 μmol Si L-1; ALOHA300) and at 1000 m (113 μmol Si L -1; ALOHA1000) water depth were analyzed.

Agreement among laboratories is considered very good with mean values for δ30Si(OH)4:

  • ALOHA300 = +1.68 ± 0.35 (2 s.d.; Median: +1.66 ± 0.13)
  • ALOHA1000 = +1.24 ± 0.20 (2 s.d.; Median: +1.25 ± 0.06)

For future studies analyzing δ30Si(OH)4 in seawater it is recommended to analyze ALOHA300 and ALOHA1000 and report these results to facilitate and evaluate comparability of data between laboratories.

17 Grasse l

Figure: δ30Si(OH)4 results from all groups for ALOHA300 (red circles) and ALOHA1000 (blue circles). The vertical lines indicates the mean value of all measurements for ALOHA1000 (blue) and for ALOHA300 (red). The data points represent the individual δ30Si(OH)4 values for Si isotopes measurements. Short vertical solid lines are the means obtained by individual laboratories for the two samples. Uncertainty in the mean for all measurements (2 s.d.) is indicated by the horizontal bars at the top of the figure (Modified from Grasse et al. 2017, JAAS). Click here to view the figure larger.


Grasse, P., Brzezinski, M. A., Cardinal, D., de Souza, G. F., Andersson, P., Closset, I., et al. (2017). GEOTRACES inter-calibration of the stable silicon isotope composition of dissolved silicic acid in seawater. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 32, 562–578. DOI: 10.1039/C6JA00302H

Latest highlights

Science Highlights

Different fates of four poorly soluble trace elements in the Pacific Ocean

Zheng and co-authors present the full-depth distributions of aluminum, lead, manganese and copper in the western South Pacific.


Science Highlights

Internal tides, energetic dynamical processes that generate particle nepheloids at different depths

In this study, Barbot and co-authors identified the sites where internal tides are responsible for sediment resuspension…


Science Highlights

Greenland’s floating ice tongues, sources of dissolved lead to the Arctic

Using helium and neon as tracers for subglacial meltwater, Krisch and colleagues found that subglacial discharge is a source of dissolved lead.

Science Highlights

Debate on the dissolved nickel bioavailibility in surface waters

John and co-authors tackle one of the known paradoxes regarding trace metal cycles in the ocean…