The magnesium isotope budget of the modern ocean: Constraints from riverine magnesium isotope ratios

Tipper, E. T. and Galy, A. and Gaillardet, J. and Bickle, M. J. and Elderfield, H. and Carder, E. A. (2006) The magnesium isotope budget of the modern ocean: Constraints from riverine magnesium isotope ratios. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 250 (1-2). pp. 241-253. DOI

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We have measured the magnesium (Mg) isotope ratios in 45 rivers including 16 of the largest rivers in the world, covering a range of geologic, tectonic and climatic drainage basin environments. The range in riverine δ26Mg is 2.5‰, half the variation in terrestrial rock. Although the Mg isotopic composition of the source rock is important for small rivers, at a global scale lithology is of limited significance for Mg isotope ratios in rivers. Part of the variability at a global scale may be attributed to fractionation in the weathering environment. The rivers analysed constitute 30% of the global Mg riverine flux to the oceans and a flux weighted Mg isotope composition of global runoff has been estimated at − 1.09‰. Even taking into account uncertainty, this is distinct from seawater at − 0.82‰. This difference arises either from the fractionation of Mg isotope ratios in the ocean and/or a Mg budget which is not at steady state. The difference is consistent with fractionation by carbonate precipitation. In the simplest steady state scenario, where the oceanic mass balance is maintained by riverine input and hydrothermal and dolomite output, Mg isotope ratios imply a minimum dolomite Mg flux of 9% of the total output Mg flux. The implications of the distinct isotopic composition of the riverine flux from modern seawater, is that the Mg isotope ratio of seawater has probably varied outside of current analytical uncertainty. Mg isotope ratios may therefore provide a valuable new tracer in palaeo-oceanography.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2006 AREP IA52 2006 P
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Journal or Publication Title: Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume: 250
Page Range: pp. 241-253
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2009 13:03
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 10:08

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