Benthic geochemistry of manganese in the Bay of Biscay, and sediment mass accumulation rate

Research areas:
  • Aurélia Mouret
  • Pierre Anschutz
  • Pascal Lecroart
  • Gwénaëlle Chaillou
  • Christelle Hyacinthe
  • Jonathan Deborde
  • Frans Jorissen
  • Bruno Deflandre
  • Sabine Schmidt
  • Jean-Marie Jouanneau
Geo-Marine Letters
133 - 149
Manganese is a major redox reactive element of benthic metabolism. We have built a database of existing knowledge on the benthic geochemistry of Mn in the Bay of Biscay, in order to comprehensively assess the behaviour of Mn in a variety of environments during early diagenesis. The database contains vertical profiles of particulate and dissolved Mn species of 59 cores collected during 17 cruises between 1997 and 2006 at nine stations positioned between 140 and 4,800 m water depths. At all studied stations, Mn species follow the conventional distribution, where Mn(III,IV) species are enriched in the oxic layer, and dissolved Mn is present in the anoxic sediments. A minor part of Mn-oxides originates from sedimenting particles. The major part is of diagenetic origin, and derives from the oxidation of upward-diffusing dissolved Mn(II). Mn-oxide inventories are higher at the deeper stations than at the shallower ones. This difference cannot be attributed to different sources of sedimenting particles, but it must depend on sedimentation rate and diagenetic processes. At depth, dissolved Mn(II) concentrations are constant. This probably reflects equilibrium with an authigenic Mn(II) phase, which is the ultimate phase into which Mn is fossilized. The Mn content of deeper anoxic sediments is similarly low in all the cores studied, associated with corresponding trends of Mn content in sedimenting particles of the Bay of Biscay. Bioturbation, rather than redox oscillations, can convey Mn(III,IV) species downwards into the anoxic sediments where they are reduced, associated with a peak of dissolved Mn. Because dissolved Mn(II) is re-oxidized when it diffuses towards the oxic layer, the inventory of the diagenetic Mn(III,IV) phase remains at steady state, especially at stations where the oxic layer is thick. It then becomes possible to calculate the residence time of diagenetic Mn(III,IV) particles within the oxic layer, using the upward-directed flux of pore water Mn(II). By applying this residence time to the accumulation of sediments within the oxic layer, we obtain the sediment mass accumulation rate. The values calculated for the sediments of the Bay of Biscay fit well with accumulation rates obtained from radionuclides or sediment traps. The method has also been validated with data collected in other marine sedimentary environments.