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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 03 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 03 Dec 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

New observations of the distribution, morphology, and dissolution dynamics of cryogenic gypsum in the Arctic Ocean

Jutta E. Wollenburg1, Morten Iversen1,2, Christian Katlein1, Thomas Krumpen1, Marcel Nicolaus1, Giulia Castellani1, Ilka Peeken1, and Hauke Flores1 Jutta E. Wollenburg et al.
  • 1Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar-und Meeresforschung, 27570, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2MARUM and University of Bremen, 27359, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. To date observations on a single location indicate that cryogenic gypsum (Ca[SO4]·2H2O) may constitute an efficient but hitherto overlooked ballasting mineral enhancing the efficiency of the biological carbon pump in the Arctic Ocean. In June–July 2017 we sampled cryogenic gypsum under pack-ice in the Nansen Basin north of Svalbard using a plankton net mounted on a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROVnet). Cryogenic gypsum crystals were present at all sampled stations, which suggested a persisting cryogenic gypsum release from melting sea ice throughout the investigated area. This was supported by a sea ice backtracking model that indicated that gypsum release was not related to a specific region of sea ice formation. The observed cryogenic gypsum crystals exhibited a large variability in morphology and size, with the largest crystals exceeding a length of 1 cm. Preservation, temperature and pressure laboratory studies revealed that gypsum dissolution rates accelerated with increasing temperature and pressure, ranging from 6 % d−1 by mass in Polar Surface Water (-0.5 °C) to 81 % d−1 by mass in Atlantic Water (2.5 °C at 65 bar). When testing the preservation of gypsum in Formaldehyde-fixed samples we observed immediate dissolution. Dissolution at warmer temperatures and through inappropriate preservation media may thus explain why cryogenic gypsum was not observed in scientific samples previously. Direct measurements of gypsum crystal sinking velocities ranged between 200 and 7000 m d−1 indicated that gypsum-loaded marine aggregates could rapidly sink from the surface to abyssal depths, supporting the hypothesised potential as a ballasting mineral in the Arctic Ocean.

Jutta E. Wollenburg et al.
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Jutta E. Wollenburg et al.
Jutta E. Wollenburg et al.
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Short summary
This is the first extensive study that documents the wide spread occurrence and release of cryogenic gypsum into the Arctic water column. The study describes the morphology of gypsum crystals collected and elucidates their ballasting potential in experimental set-ups. The sinking velocity and excess density of the collected gypsum crystals has been measured and high-pressure experiments were carried out to evaluate their preservation potential within the Arctic water column.
This is the first extensive study that documents the wide spread occurrence and release of...