Focus |

Marine iron cycling

Iron is a vital micronutrient in the marine environment, and variations in the supply and transformation of this element can alter ocean productivity. In this web focus, we present a collection of articles that examine the modern marine iron cycle and assess how iron cycling has varied through time.


  • Nature Geoscience | Editorial

    Iron is an essential fuel for life in the oceans. The influence of this element on biogeochemistry — and nitrogen cycling in particular — varies across environments and time.

  • Nature | Review Article

    The recent expansion of observational data has changed our understanding of the ocean iron cycle and its linkages with nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen.

    • Alessandro Tagliabue
    • , Andrew R. Bowie
    • , Philip W. Boyd
    • , Kristen N. Buck
    • , Kenneth S. Johnson
    •  &  Mak A. Saito
  • Nature Geoscience | Article

    Fixed nitrogen is lost from oxygen minimum zones. Experimental data from an anoxic lake show that the presence of Fe(II) limits this loss, suggesting that ancient anoxic and iron-rich oceans may not have been nitrogen limited.

    • Céline C. Michiels
    • , François Darchambeau
    • , Fleur A. E. Roland
    • , Cédric Morana
    • , Marc Llirós
    • , Tamara García-Armisen
    • , Bo Thamdrup
    • , Alberto V. Borges
    • , Donald E. Canfield
    • , Pierre Servais
    • , Jean-Pierre Descy
    •  &  Sean A. Crowe
  • Nature Geoscience | Article

    The largest known hydrothermal plume moves dissolved iron halfway across the Pacific. In situ measurements show that dissolved and particulate iron transport is facilitated by reversible exchange of dissolved iron onto organic compounds.

    • Jessica N. Fitzsimmons
    • , Seth G. John
    • , Christopher M. Marsay
    • , Colleen L. Hoffman
    • , Sarah L. Nicholas
    • , Brandy M. Toner
    • , Christopher R. German
    •  &  Robert M. Sherrell

From the archives

  • Nature Geoscience | News & Views

    Volcanic eruptions at ocean ridges produce large volumes of glass that is rapidly leached by seawater. Geochemical calculations suggest that this process helps to explain the deposition of carbonates at the end of extreme ice ages.

    • Ian J. Fairchild
  • Nature Geoscience | Letter

    Deeper ocean waters were anoxic during the Neoproterozoic. Geochemical data suggest a transition from sulphidic to iron-rich mid-depth waters about one billion years ago, coincident with increased iron influx from the supercontinent Rodinia.

    • Romain Guilbaud
    • , Simon W. Poulton
    • , Nicholas J. Butterfield
    • , Maoyan Zhu
    •  &  Graham A. Shields-Zhou
  • Nature Geoscience | Letter

    The release of carbon dioxide during biological carbonate production counters carbon uptake by phytoplankton. The carbon chemistry of sinking particles in the Southern Ocean suggests that iron availability stimulates this carbonate counter pump.

    • Ian Salter
    • , Ralf Schiebel
    • , Patrizia Ziveri
    • , Aurore Movellan
    • , Richard Lampitt
    •  &  George A. Wolff