Size speciation of dissolved trace metals in hydrothermal plumes on the Southwest Indian Ridge

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number145367
Journal / PublicationScience of the Total Environment
Online published23 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


Determining the size speciation and chemical transformation of trace metals is of paramount in order to better assess the impact of hydrothermal activities on the ocean metal budgets. In this study, we examined the concentration and size speciation of dissolved trace metals (i.e. Mn, Fe, Cu, Ni, Mo, As, Pb, Cd) in the hydrothermal plumes of two vent fields (i.e. Longqi and Tiancheng) on the Southwest Indian Ridge. The majority of dissolved Mn (75–100%) in the buoyant and non-buoyant plumes were presented as soluble Mn (<1 kDa), while dissolved Fe in the buoyant plume contained considerable colloidal Fe (54–95%). More than 66% of hydrothermally dissolved Fe was removed in the buoyant plume within a short distance of dispersion. Except for the samples most proximal to the fluid source, concentrations of Cu, Ni and Mo in the plumes were comparable to those of the background seawater and independent of the plume dilution. Concentrations of dissolved As and Pb in the buoyant plume of the Tiancheng field were higher than those of the Longqi field, resulting from the scavenging of As in the Longqi field and the release of Pb from metal sulfide dissolution in the Tiancheng field. Concentrations of dissolved Cd in the non-buoyant plume were nearly identical to the background seawater and soluble Cd was dominant (75–92%) in the soluble phase. In contrast, 33–96% (or 0.024–0.085 μg/kg) of dissolved Cd was removed in the buoyant plume and the remaining dissolved Cd was mainly in colloidal phase (up to 96%), suggesting that hydrothermal plume was likely an important sink of oceanic Cd and colloidal ligands played an important role in the stabilization of hydrothermal Cd. Our study has demonstrated the very dynamic nature of trace metal speciation in hydrothermal vent fluids.

Research Area(s)

  • Hydrothermal plume, Size speciation, Southwest Indian Ocean, Trace metal