It has recently been postulated that lithogenic particles such as Saharan dust strongly influence particulate organic carbon export to the deep ocean by acting as mineral ballast. However, our understanding of the processes involved remains scant. In the present study, optical measurements were performed to monitor variations in the concentration, composition and size distribution of particles in suspension within the water column after simulating a Saharan dust event in very clear Mediterranean waters off Corsica in June 2010. A new methodology set up in large mesocosms proved very successful in this regard. Values obtained simultaneously from three instruments (WetLabs ECO-BB3, WetLabs ac-9, Sequoia Scientific LISST-100) provided evidence that (1) part of the Saharan dust pool has a rapid settling velocity (~24-86 m day -1), (2) particulate export following a dust event is a nonlinear multi-step process and (3) export is controlled in part by the formation of organic-mineral aggregates. This experimental study provides the first insight of the complex export processes occurring after a dust event involving both physical and biogeochemical forcings in clear oligotrophic waters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)