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Article
Nature 383, 495 - 501 (10 October 1996); doi:10.1038/383495a0

A massive phytoplankton bloom induced by an ecosystem-scale iron fertilization experiment in the equatorial Pacific Ocean

Kenneth H. Coale*, Kenneth S. Johnson*, Steve E. Fitzwater*, R. Michael Gordon*, Sara Tanner*, Francisco P. Chavez, Laurie Ferioli*, Carole Sakamoto, Paul Rogers, Frank Millero, Paul Steinberg, Phil Nightingale§, David Cooper§, William P. Cochlan, Michael R. Landry£, John Constantinou£, Gretchen Rollwagen£, Armando Trasvinastar & Raphael Kudela

* Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, PO Box 450, Moss Landing, California 95039-0450, USA
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, PO Box 628, Moss Landing, California 95039-0628, USA
University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, Florida 33149, USA
§ School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
Hancock Institute for Marine Studies, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089-0371, USA
£ Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
star CICESE Oceanografia Fisica, Km 107 Carret. Tijuana-Ensenada, Ensenada, B. C. Mexico
Present addresses: Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, West Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK (P.N.); Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin, 1225, West Dayton Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA (D.C.); Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, PO Box 628, Moss Landing, California 95039-0628, USA (R.K.), Departamento de Oceanografia Fisica, Oceanografia Tropical, CICESE subsede Baja California Sur, Miraflores No. 334 entre Mulege y La Paz, Fracc. Bella Vista, La Paz 23050, B.C.S., Mexico (A.T.).

The seeding of an expanse of surface waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean with low concentrations of dissolved iron triggered a massive phytoplankton bloom which consumed large quantities of carbon dioxide and nitrate that these microscopic plants cannot fully utilize under natural conditions. These and other observations provide unequivocal support for the hypothesis that phytoplankton growth in this oceanic region is limited by iron bioavailability.

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