Accumulation of Fe oxyhydroxides in the Peruvian oxygen deficient zone implies non-oxygen dependent Fe oxidation

Maija I. Heller, Phoebe J. Lam, James W. Moffett, Claire P. Till, Jong Mi Lee, Brandy M. Toner, Matthew A. Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) have been proposed to be an important source of dissolved iron (Fe) into the interior ocean. However, previous studies in OMZs have shown a sharp decrease in total dissolved Fe (dFe) and/or dissolved Fe(II) (dFe(II)) concentrations at the shelf-break, despite constant temperature, salinity and continued lack of oxygen across the shelf-break. The loss of both total dFe and dFe(II) suggests a conversion of the dFe to particulate form, but studies that have coupled the reduction-oxidation (redox) speciation of both dissolved and particulate phases have not previously been done. Here we have measured the redox speciation and concentrations of both dissolved and particulate forms of Fe in samples collected during the U.S. GEOTRACES Eastern tropical Pacific Zonal Transect (EPZT) cruise in 2013 (GP16). This complete data set allows us to assess possible mechanisms for loss of dFe. We observed an offshore loss of dFe(II) within the oxygen deficient zone (ODZ), where dissolved oxygen is undetectable, accompanied by an increase in total particulate Fe (pFe). Total pFe concentrations were highest in the upper ODZ. X-ray absorption spectroscopy revealed that the pFe maximum was primarily in the Fe(III) form as Fe(III) oxyhydroxides. The remarkable similarity in the distributions of total particulate iron and nitrite suggests a role for nitrite in the oxidation of dFe(II) to pFe(III). We present a conceptual model for the rapid redox cycling of Fe that occurs in ODZs, despite the absence of oxygen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-193
Number of pages20
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Fe redox cycling
  • ODZ
  • OMZ
  • Oxygen deficient zone
  • Oxygen minimum zone
  • Synchrotron XAS


Dive into the research topics of 'Accumulation of Fe oxyhydroxides in the Peruvian oxygen deficient zone implies non-oxygen dependent Fe oxidation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this