Research Article

Climate and Ocean Dynamics and the Lead Isotopic Records in Pacific Ferromanganese Crusts

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Science  15 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5328, pp. 913-918
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5328.913

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Abstract

As hydrogenous iron-manganese crusts grow, at rates of millimeters per million years, they record changes in the lead isotopic composition of ambient seawater. Time-resolved lead isotopic data for cut slabs of two central Pacific iron-manganese crusts that have been growing since about 50 million years ago were measured in situ by laser ablation, multiple-collector, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The lead isotopic compositions have remained remarkably uniform over the past 30 million years, but the record of small variations corresponds with other paleoceanographic indicators of climate change, including weathering and glaciation. This implies that despite the short residence time of lead in the oceans, global mechanisms may influence lead isotopic compositions in the central Pacific, far from continental inputs, because of changes in weathering, ocean circulation, and degree of mixing. Thus lead isotopic data could be used to probe climate-driven changes in ocean circulation through time.

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