Abstract

Accumulation rates of Mg, Al, Si, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, opal, and calcium carbonate have been calculated from their concentrations in samples from equatorial Deep Sea Drilling Project sites. Maps of element accumulation rates and of Q-mode factors derived from raw data indicate that the flux of trace metals to equatorial Pacific sediments has varied markedly through time and space in response to changes in the relative and absolute influence of several depositional influences: biogenic, detrital, authigenic, and hydrothermal sedimentation. Biologically derived material dominates the sediment of the equatorial Pacific. The distributions of Cu and Zn are most influenced by surface-water biological activity, but Ni, Al, Fe, and Mn are also incorporated into biological material. All of these elements have equatorial accumulation maxima similar to those of opal and calcium carbonate at times during the past 50 m.y. Detritus distributed by trade winds and equatorial surface circulation contributes Al, non-biogenic Si, Fe, and Mg to the region. Detrital sediment is most important in areas with a small supply of biogenic debris and low bulk-accumulation rates. Al accumulation generally increases toward the north and east, indicating its continental source and distribution by the northeast trade winds. Maxima in biological productivity during middle Eocene and latest Miocene to early Pliocene time and concomitant well-developed surface circulation contributed toward temporal maxima in the accumulation rates of Cu, Zn, Ni, and Al in sediments of those ages. Authigenic material is also important only where bulk-sediment accumulation rates are low. Ni, Cu, Zn, and sometimes Mn are associated with this sediment. Fe is almost entirely of hydrothermal origin. Mn is primarily hydrothermal, but some is probably scavenged from sea water by amorphous iron hydroxide floes along with other elements concentrated in hydrothermal sediments, Ni, Cu, and Zn. During the past 50 m.y. all of these elements accumulated over the East Pacific Rise at rates nearly an order of magnitude higher than those at non–rise-crest sites. In addition, factor analysis indicates that some of this material is carried substantial distances to the west of the rise crest. Accumulation rates of Fe in basal metalliferous sediments indicate that the hydrothermal activity that supplied amorphous Fe oxides to the East Pacific Rise areas was most intense during middle Eocene and late Miocene to early Pliocene time.

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