Silicon isotopes reveal the different Arctic endmembers contributing to the deep water formed in the North Atlantic Ocean

Combining a multiparametric analysis, biogenic and dissolved silicon (Si) isotope data (30Si-bSiO2 and δ30Si-DSi, respectively) in the Arctic Ocean, Liguori and co-workers (2020, see reference below) could unravel the influence of water masses on the δ30Si-DSi distribution within the Arctic Ocean. Any deviation of the δ30Si-DSi signature from pure mixing was attributed to the contribution of biogenic particle dissolution. This is particularly true for the Dense Arctic Atlantic Waters which are dominating from 200 to 500 m water depth and are marked by the highest δ30Si-DSi, indicating a strong lateral influence of waters from the shelves, especially the Barents Sea shelf, due to its high productivity. Contrastingly, the deepest waters are not influenced by the dissolution of sinking bSiO2, probably due to the low concentration of bSiO2. The authors could thus establish that the Arctic Ocean potentially presents several isotopically different endmembers that contribute to the deep water formed in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Figure: Isosurface plots for δ30Si-DSi for different water depths in the Arctic Ocean. (A) Blue dots – this study, purple stars – Varela et al. (2016), pink diamonds – de Souza et al. (2012) and black squares – Sutton et al. (2018b). Black arrows mark the outflowing waters: 1 – Labrador Sea Water, 2 – Denmark Strait Overflow Water, and 3 – Iceland Scotland Overflow Water. Waters from the Canadian Arctic Ocean leaving predominantly through the shallow Canadian Archipelago and the Labrador Sea contribute higher δ30Si-DSi (Varela et al., 2016) to the Labrador Sea Water (1) and therefore to North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW). In contrast, waters from the Central Arctic Ocean/Eurasian Basin leaving through the much deeper Fram Strait contribute lower δ30Si-DSi to the Denmark Strait Overflow Water (2) and Iceland Scotland Overflow Water (3) and their respective precursor water masses revealing that the Arctic Ocean export different endmember signals contributing to the NADW.


Liguori, B. T. P., Ehlert, C., & Pahnke, K. (2020). The Influence of Water Mass Mixing and Particle Dissolution on the Silicon Cycle in the Central Arctic Ocean. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7. DOI:

de Souza, G. F., Reynolds, B. C., Rickli, J., Frank, M., Saito, M. A., Gerringa, L. J., et al. (2012). Southern Ocean control of silicon stable isotope distribution in the deep Atlantic Ocean. Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles 9, 4199-4213. DOI:

Sutton, J. N., Souza, G. F. D., Garcia-Ibiliez, M. I., and De La Rocha, C. L. (2018b). The silicon stable isotope distribution along the GEOVIDE section (GEOTRACES GA-01) of the North Atlantic Ocean. Biogeosciences 15, 5663–5676. DOI:

Varela, D. E., Brzezinski, M. A., Beucher, C. P., Jones, J. L., Giesbrecht, K. E., Lansard, B., et al. (2016). Heavy silicon isotopic composition of silicic acid and biogenic silica in Arctic waters over the Beaufort shelf and the Canada Basin. Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles 30, 804–824. DOI:

Latest highlights

Science Highlights

The most important thorium-234 disequilibrium compilation you ever saw

Elena Ceballos-Romero and her colleagues propose a comprehensive global oceanic compilation of Thorium-234 measurements.


Science Highlights

Machine learning approach led to the first iron climatology

Huang and co-workers propose the first data-driven surface-to-seafloor dissolved iron climatology.


Science Highlights

Insight on the aluminium cycling during the inter-monsoon period in the Arabian Sea and Equatorial Indian Ocean

Full vertical water column profiles were established by Singh and Singh along the GI05 transect in the Indian Ocean during the fall inter-monsoon period in 2015.

Science Highlights

Distributions, boundary inputs, and scavenging processes of trace metals in the East Sea (Japan Sea)

Seo and his colleagues show pronounced atmospheric and shelf inputs of trace elements in the Japan Sea.