Authigenesis of trace metals in energetic tropical shelf environments

Continental Shelf Research
By: , and 



We evaluated authigenic changes of Fe, Mn, V, U, Mo, Cd and Re in suboxic, periodically remobilized, tropical shelf sediments from the Amazon continental shelf and the Gulf of Papua. The Cd/Al, Mo/Al, and U/Al ratios in Amazon shelf sediments were 82%, 37%, and 16% less than those in Amazon River suspended sediments, respectively. Very large depletions of U previously reported in this environment were not observed. The Cd/Al ratios in Gulf of Papua sediments were 76% lower than measurements made on several Papua New Guinea rivers, whereas U/Al ratios in the shelf sediments were enriched by approximately 20%. Other metal/Al ratios in the Papua New Guinea river suspended sediments and continental shelf sediments were not distinguishably different. Comparison of metal/Al ratios to grain size distributions in Gulf of Papua samples indicates that our observations cannot be attributed to differences in grain size between the river suspended sediments and continental shelf sediments. These two shelves constitute a source of dissolved Cd to the world ocean equal to 29–100% of the dissolved Cd input from rivers, but only 3% of the dissolved Mo input and 4% of the dissolved U input. Release of Cd, Mo, and U in tropical shelf sediments is likely a result of intense Fe and Mn oxide reduction in pore waters and resuspension of the sediments. Since we do not observe depletions of particulate Fe and Mn in the shelf sediments most of these dissolved metals must reoxidize in the overlying waters and reprecipitate. As Cd exhibits the largest losses on these tropical shelves, we examined the ability of newly formed Fe and Mn oxides to adsorb dissolved Cd using a geochemical diffuse double-layer surface complexation model and found the oxide surfaces are relatively ineffective at readsorbing Cd in seawater due to surface-site competition by Mg and Ca. If the remobilization and reoxidation of Fe and Mn occurs frequently enough before sediment is buried significant amounts of Cd may be removed from the oxide surfaces. Because a much greater percentage of Mn than Fe becomes remobilized in these shelf sediments, metals closely associated with Mn oxides (like Cd) are more likely to show losses during deposition.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Authigenesis of trace metals in energetic tropical shelf environments
Series title Continental Shelf Research
DOI 10.1016/j.csr.2005.02.001
Volume 25
Issue 11
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Colorado Water Science Center, Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 17 p.
First page 1321
Last page 1337
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