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Title: Oceanic cycling of rare earth elements and the application of Nd isotopes to assess changes in Mesozoic ocean circulation
Author: Zheng, Xinyuan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 7432
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Rare earth elements (REEs) and their isotopes (such as Nd isotopes) can be potentially used to trace a wide range of oceanic processes in both modern and ancient oceans, but their successful application as tracers requires a comprehensive understanding of REE cycling in the modern ocean. Previous studies of REEs in seawater were largely constrained by analytical difficulties in generating accurate and precise REE data from seawater, which typically contain REE concentrations at a sub-ppt to ppt level. A new, and relatively simple, analytical method for precise and accurate determination of all dissolved REE concentrations in reasonably small (∼100 ml) seawater samples is presented in this thesis. With the application of the new method, this thesis reports the first full-depth, zonal ocean section of all dissolved REE concentrations, collected during the CoFeMUG cruise along ∼12°S in the South Atlantic. The section approach of this study places the distribution of dissolved REE concentrations in a well-constrained hydrographic context, allowing the first quantitative assessment (by an inverse model) of the relative importance of hydrographic controls resulting from advection/mixing of ocean circulation, together with non-conservative controls resulting from local particle scavenging and remineralization, in controlling the distribution of dissolved REEs in this region. A noteworthy decoupling of Ce and Mn with respect to their cycling in the water column was also observed in this study. The application of Nd isotopes as a tracer to reconstruct changes in ocean circulation in the NW European chalk shelf sea during rapid climatic events, including the mid-Cenomanian Event and oceanic anoxic event 2 (OAE 2), suggests a tight coupling between ocean circulation and transient climatic cooling during the general warm Late Cretaceous. An advected volcanic signal during OAE 2 was registered in the seawater Nd-isotope record from the English Chalk, probably suggesting a period of enhanced ocean ventilation/mixing at this time.
Supervisor: Henderson, Gideon ; Jenkyns, Hugh Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Earth sciences ; Geochemistry ; Paleogeology ; Marine geology and geophysics ; Environmental change ; rare earth elements ; REEs ; ocean circulation ; Nd isotopes ; Atlantic ; anoxic events ; OAEs ; Cretaceous ; trace metal cycling