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Phosphate pumps and shuttles in the Black Sea


Phosphate distributions in oxic–anoxic ocean basins are related to distributions of total oxygen consumed (mainly from free oxygen, nitrate and sulphate) in the decomposition of organic matter1,2. Data from the Black Sea show, however, that phosphate concentrations immediately above and below the redox front are considerably lower and higher, respectively, than would be predicted from such stoichiometric models. This implies extra sinks and/or sources of phosphate and/or total oxygen not associated with organic decomposition. Here, I present two physical–biogeochemical interactions that result in phosphate sinks and sources with the structure needed to explain the observed phosphate anomalies. A phosphate pump based on iron can account for up to 40% of the required sink–source strength. The rest may be caused by a phosphate shuttle based on manganese.

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Shaffer, G. Phosphate pumps and shuttles in the Black Sea. Nature 321, 515–517 (1986).

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