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Radiocarbon in dissolved organic carbon of the South Pacific Ocean


Marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) originates mainly from primary production using dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) that has young 14C ages. Paradoxically, the 14C age of deep DOC ranges from 4000 to 6400 14C years, indicating that a portion of DOC survives multiple, deep ocean mixing cycles. Here we show that 14C ages of DOC from the deep South Pacific are equal to those from the deep north central Pacific. This is contrary to DIC 14C ages that increase from south to north in the deep Pacific. We hypothesize that DOC in the South Pacific is influenced by input of ancient DOC from hydrothermal flanks and ridges of the East Pacific Rise. We show that DOC Δ14C values in the deep Pacific are not controlled by aging during northward transport of deep waters, indicating that the deep oceanic carbon cycle needs reassessment.

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