Leaf wax and Sr‐Nd isotope evidence for high‐latitude dust input to the central South China sea and its implication for fertilization

Yi Yang, James A. Bendle, Richard D. Pancost, Yan Yan, Xiaoyan Ruan, Bridget Warren, Xiaoxia Lü, Xuejie Li, Yongjian Yao, Xianyu Huang, Huan Yang, Shucheng Xie

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Abstract

Recent time-series from sediment traps show abnormally high chlorophyll-a concentrations and primary productivity in the oligotrophic central South China Sea (SCS), especially during wintertime. Here we present new insights from compound-specific hydrogen isotopic analysis of leaf wax n-alkanes and Sr-Nd isotope compositions extracted from four basin-wide surface sediment transects. We find that the deepest surface sediments in the central basin contain the most depleted n-alkane hydrogen isotopes, suggesting inputs from higher latitude soils in northern China. This is supported by the Sr-Nd isotope compositions of the same surface sediments. We propose that aeolian dust is transported by the winter monsoon and might fertilize the phytoplankton bloom in the central SCS. This process may have been enhanced in ancient times when the winter monsoon was stronger, driving both vertical mixing and dust transport to the central basin.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL091853
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume48
Issue number11
Early online date4 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • South China Sea
  • Sr-Nd isotopes
  • aeolian dust
  • carbon and hydrogen isotopes
  • leaf wax
  • n-alkane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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