About the cover
A three-dimensional view of dissolved iron across the South Pacific Ocean. Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are an important source of iron, an essential trace element that can limit marine productivity. Recent studies have questioned the long-standing view that most of the iron discharged from such vents is removed from seawater close to its source, and is therefore of limited importance for ocean biogeochemistry. Joseph Resing et al. report on the lateral transport of hydrothermal dissolved iron and other trace metals from the southern East Pacific Rise more than 4,000 km across the South Pacific Ocean. Using data from samples collected from 35 hydrographic stations between Manta, Ecuador and Papeete, Tahiti, the authors estimate an input of global hydrothermal dissolved iron to the ocean at least four times greater than previously reported. With the help of a model study, they suggest that physicochemical stabilization of iron enables hydrothermal activity to significantly affect the carbon cycle by supporting phytoplankton growth in the Southern Ocean. Cover: 3D graphics created by Reiner Schlitzer, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany.