First 236U data from the Arctic Ocean and use of 236U/238U and 129I/236U as a new dual tracer

N. Casacuberta, P. Masqué, G. Henderson, M. Rutgers van-der-Loeff, D. Bauch, C. Vockenhuber, A. Daraoui, C. Walther, H. A. Synal, M. Christl

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© 2016 Elsevier B.V. The first dataset of 236U/238U in the water column of the Arctic Ocean (AO) is presented and shows the widest range of ratios reported so far in the open ocean, from (5±5) to (3840±260)×10-12. Surface samples and depth profiles were collected during two GEOTRACES expeditions in 2011-2012 and analyzed for the concentrations of 236U and 129I, with the aim of investigating whether the combination of 236U/238U and 129I/236U can be used as a new oceanographic tool in the AO. Results show that the distributions of the 236U/238U and 129I/236U atomic ratios are consistent with the different water masses in the AO. High 236U/238U and 129I/236U ratios in the upper water column (>2000×10-12 and >200, respectively) illustrate the penetration of Atlantic waters (AW) into the AO. Lower values were found in Pacific waters (PW) and deep waters of the AO. Rivers seem to represent a temporally and spatially-constrained third anthropogenic source of 236U but more data are needed to confirm this. In a simple mixing model, the combination of 236U/238U and 129I/236U reveals a high contribution (>99%) of natural background waters (pre-nuclear era) in the deep and bottom waters of the Amerasian basin, indicating an apparent water mass renewal time of >1000 years. Despite the relatively high apparent age of the Amerasian Basin deep waters, this work shows the potential of using the dual-tracer approach as a new oceanographic tool in the Arctic Ocean.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-134
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2016


  • 129 I
  • 236 U
  • Arctic Ocean
  • Tracers


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