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Modelling the effect of boundary scavenging on Thorium and Protactinium profiles in the ocean

M. Roy-Barman 1, 2, *
* Corresponding author
2 GEDI - Géochimie Des Impacts
LSCE - Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement [Gif-sur-Yvette] : DRF/LSCE
Abstract : The "boundary scavenging" box model is a cornerstone of our understanding of the particle-reactive ra-dionuclide fluxes between the open ocean and the ocean margins. However, it does not describe the radionuclide profiles in the water column. Here, I present the transport-reaction equations for radionuclides transported vertically by reversible scavenging on settling particles and laterally by horizontal currents between the margin and the open ocean. Analytical solutions of these equations are compared with existing data. In the Pacific Ocean, the model produces "al-most" linear $^{230}$Th profiles (as observed in the data) despite lateral transport. However, omitting lateral transport biaises the $^{230}$Th based particle flux estimates by as much as 50%. $^{231}$Pa profiles are well reproduced in the whole water column of the Pacific Margin and from the surface down to 3000 m in the Pacific subtropical gyre. Enhanced bottom scaveng-ing or inflow of $^{231}$Pa-poor equatorial water may account for the model-data discrepancy below 3000 m. The lithogenic $^{232}$Th is modelled using the same transport parameters as $^{230}$Th but a different source function. The main source of the $^{232}$Th scavenged in the open Pacific is advection from the ocean margin, whereas a net flux of $^{230}$Th produced in the open Pacific is advected and scavenged at the margin, illustrating boundary exchange. In the Arctic Ocean, the model reproduces $^{230}$Th measured profiles that the uni-dimensional scavenging model or the scavenging-ventilation model failed to explain. Moreover, if lateral transport is ignored, the $^{230}$Th based particle settling speed may by underestimated by a factor 4 at the Arctic Ocean margin. The very low scav-enging rate in the open Arctic Ocean combined with the enhanced scavenging at the margin accounts for the lack of high $^{231}$Pa/ $^{230}$Th ratio in arctic sediments.
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M. Roy-Barman. Modelling the effect of boundary scavenging on Thorium and Protactinium profiles in the ocean. Biogeosciences, European Geosciences Union, 2009, 6, pp.3091 - 3107. ⟨cea-02641299⟩

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