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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Concentrations and radiocarbon signatures of dissolved organic matter in the Pacific Ocean


We present evidence suggesting that only a portion of the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the seawater analyzed previously by Williams and Druffel (1987) was oxidized by the UV-radiation method. High temperature catalytic (HTC) methods (Sugimura and Suzuki, 1988) used to reoxidize the central North Pacific gyre water samples reveal that the total DOC (DOCHTC) is about twice that of the UV-oxidizable DOC (DOCuv). Indications from the original study suggest that this additional DOC contains higher concentrations of radiocarbon than in the DOCuv(Williams and Druffel, 1987). This evidence implies that DOC is older and thus more refractory with respect to biological utilization, yet is more chemically reactive with respect to photooxidation, than the fraction resistant to UV (DOCres).

We report accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) Δ14C measurements of humic, fulvic and hydrophilic acid fractions isolated from water collected at 180 m in the North Pacific (19°N, 158°W) using XAD macroreticular resins. Δ14C values of the humic material are less than those of DOCuv from a similar depth 1200 km further north (Williams and Druffel, 1987) indicating that these humic substances are part of the ‘old’ recycled DOCuv in the ocean.

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