The deep distributions of helium isotopes, radiocarbon, and noble gases along the U.S. GEOTRACES East Pacific Zonal Transect (GP16)

TitleThe deep distributions of helium isotopes, radiocarbon, and noble gases along the U.S. GEOTRACES East Pacific Zonal Transect (GP16)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJenkins, WJ, Lott, III, DE, German, CR, Cahill, KL, Goudreau, J, Longworth, B
JournalMarine Chemistry

Abstract We report the deep distributions of noble gases, helium isotopes, and radiocarbon measured during the U.S. \{GEOTRACES\} \{GP16\} East Pacific Zonal Transect between 152 and 77°W at 12–15°S in the South Pacific. The dominant feature is an intense tongue of hydrothermal effluent that extends > 4000 km westward from the East Pacific Rise (EPR) at   2500 m depth. The patterns reveal significant “downstream” variations in water mass structure, advection, and mixing that belie the simple perception of a continuous plume extending westward from the EPR. For example, one feature observed at 120°W, 14°S has tracer signatures that are consistent with a water mass originating from an area as much as 2000 km south of this section, suggesting a quasi-permanent northward flow on the western flank of the EPR. Helium isotope variations in the plume show a uniquely high 3He/4He source in the tongue compared with typical mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB), consistent with the anomalously high ratios observed in \{MORB\} glasses from the \{EPR\} segment just south of this transect. The water column data also reveal that the background 3He/4He east of the \{EPR\} is significantly lower than values characteristic of MORB, suggesting an additional, more geographically distributed radiogenic 4He flux of order 107 mol/y into the deep Pacific. In the western end of the section, incoming bottom waters have relatively less hydrothermal hydrothermal helium, more radiocarbon, and more oxygen, as well as negative saturation anomalies for the heavy noble gases (Ar, Kr, and Xe). During the basin-scale upwelling of this water, diapycnal mixing serves to erase these negative anomalies. The relative magnitudes of the increases for the heavy noble gases (Ar, Kr, and Xe) are quantitatively consistent with this process. This leads us to estimate the relatively smaller effects on He and Ne saturations, which range from near zero to 0.2% and 0.3% respectively. With this information, we are able to refine our estimates of the magnitude of 3He and 4He excesses and the absolute 3He/4He ratio of non-atmospheric helium introduced into deep Pacific waters.