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Etude des échanges côte-large au moyen des isotopes du radium : cas de la fertilisation en fer au large des îles Crozet et Kerguelen (Océan Austral)

Abstract : The Southern Ocean is known to be the largest High-Nutrient, Low-Chlorophyll region of the global ocean. While nutrient concentrations (nitrate, phosphate, silicate) are high, the phytoplankton development is paradoxically limited mostly because of the low dissolved iron concentrations of the Southern Ocean waters (Martin_iron_1990). The Crozet and Kerguelen Archipelagos, located in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean, constitute two major topographic obstacles to the eastward-flowing Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The interaction of the current with the sediments of the shallow Crozet and Kerguelen plateaus contributes to the supply of iron downstream of these islands, thus leading to large phytoplankton blooms in these regions (Blain et al. 2007, Pollard et al. 2007). These phytoplankton blooms constitute unique open-air laboratories to study the response of the ecosystems and the impact on biogeochemical cycles to natural iron fertilization. This PhD thesis was done in the framework of the KEOPS-2 project. Radium isotopes (223Ra, 224Ra, 226Ra and 228Ra), that are powerful tools to study the ocean circulation and mixing, are the main tools used here. The four natural occurring isotopes display half-lives ranging from a few days to thousands of years and are produced by the decay of particle-bound thorium isotopes in sediments. They are delivered to the open ocean by diffusion and advection processes where they behave as conservative tracers in such a way that the water body keeps the signature of its contact with the sediments modulated by the half-lives of the radium isotopes. Therefore, we used Ra isotopes to (i) investigate the origin and the dispersion of the sediment-derived inputs - including iron - and (ii) to estimate the timescales of the transfer of surface waters between the shelf and offshore waters. We compared the Ra dataset with data acquired using physical tools (surface drifters and Lagrangian model derived from altimetry). Firstly, the use of three independent methods - including geochemical and physical methods - in the Crozet region allowed us to validate each method. Secondly, we show that the Crozet Island phytoplankton plume is fed by two different flows of water that interacted with either the western plateau or the eastern plateau. Thirdly, this physical-geochemical coupled approach was also used in the Kerguelen region and helped us to constrain the origin of the iron fertilization in that area. The observation of 223Ra and 224Ra in surface waters east of the Kerguelen Islands, south of the polar front (PF), indicates that these waters have recently interacted with shallow sediments. The spatial variability observed in the 223Ra and 224Ra distribution in surface waters south of the PF suggests that the input of waters and associated chemical elements across or via the PF - potentially driven by wind stress or eddies - act as sporadic pulses that may highly vary in both space and time. This pathway may thus constitute a mechanism that contributes to fertilizing the phytoplankton bloom with iron and other micronutrients east of the Kerguelen Islands. This finding also suggest that the PF may not act as a strong barrier for surface waters and associated chemical elements, a finding that may also apply for other frontal systems of the world's ocean. Finally, we investigated the 226Ra and barium (Ba) distributions offshore from the Crozet and Kerguelen islands, with the aim to provide additional constraints on the circulation patterns in this area. In particular, we observed temporal changes in the dissolved 226Ra/Ba ratios. Among potential hypothesis, one can invoke (i) changes in the circulation patterns or (ii) the impact of biological processes on the dissolved Ra and Ba concentrations.
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Virginie Sanial. Etude des échanges côte-large au moyen des isotopes du radium : cas de la fertilisation en fer au large des îles Crozet et Kerguelen (Océan Austral). Océan, Atmosphère. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015TOU30118⟩. ⟨tel-01344351⟩

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