Compilation of 231Protactinium/230 Thorium excess ratios in various surface sediment samples from the South Atlantic, supplement to: Walter, Hans-Jürgen; Rutgers van der Loeff, Michiel M; Francois, Roger (1999): Reliability of the 231Pa/230Th Activity Ratio as a Tracer for Bioproductivity of the Ocean. In: Fischer, G & Wefer, G (eds.), Use of Proxies in Paleoceanography - Examples from the South Atlantic, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 393-408


In large areas of the world's oceans, there is a relationship between the mass flux of particulate matter and the unsupported 231Pa/230Th (xs231Pa/xs230Th) activity ratio of recent sediments. This observation forms the basis for using the xs231Pa/xs230Th ratio as a proxy for past changes in export productivity. However, a simple relationship between xs231Pa/xs 230Th ratio and particle flux requires that the water residence time in an ocean basin is far in excess of the scavenging residence time of 231Pa, and that the composition of sinking particles maintains a strong preference for the adsorption of 230Th over 231Pa with a constant 230Th/231Pa fractionation factor (F). The best correlation between xs231Pa/xs230Th ratio and mass flux is found in the Pacific Ocean. In the Atlantic, the contrast in the xs231Pa/xs230Th ratios between open ocean (low flux regions) and ocean margins (high flux regions) is much less pronounced due to the shorter residence time of deep water, resulting in less effective boundary scavenging of 231Pa. In the Southern Ocean, south of the Polar Front, there is no more a simple relationship between xs231Pa/xs230Th and particle flux. This is a result of a southward decrease in F, probably reflecting the increased opal content of sinking particles. Opal does not fractionate 231Pa and 230Th significantly. This lack of fractionation results in high xs231Pa/xs230Th ratios in opal-dominated regions, even in areas of very low particle fluxes such as the Weddell Sea. The xs231Pa/xs230Th ratio can therefore only be used as a paleoproductivity proxy if, in the time interval of interest, changes in the basin ventilation rate and differential scavenging of both radionuclides due to changes in the chemical composition of particulate matter can be excluded.

Metadata Access
Creator Walter, Hans-Jürgen; Rutgers van der Loeff, Michiel M; Francois, Roger
Publisher PANGAEA - Data Publisher for Earth & Environmental Science
Publication Year 1999
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Supplementary Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 1917 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (-3.207W, -76.413S, 0.000E, 77.460N)