Nearshore carbonate dissolution in the Hawaiian Archipelago?

Inorganic carbon measurements made in the late 1980s suggest that alkalinity in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago is elevated relative to the oligotrophic waters of the North Pacific. These observations have been interpreted as evidence for a “halo” of elevated carbonate saturation state produced by the dissolution of highly soluble magnesium calcites and aragonite on the island platform or in the water column surrounding the islands. If present, this “halo” has implications for air–sea carbon dioxide exchange in Hawaiian waters and may impact the response of coral reef communities to the acidification of the surface waters of the global ocean. The purpose of this study was to assess the magnitude and extent of the elevated calcium carbonate saturation state observed on previous expeditions to this region. Transects were conducted near several atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands from shallow water adjacent to the forereef to the open ocean 15 km from the island. Hydrographic profiles were collected at each station, and discrete water samples were collected for the measurement of carbon system parameters necessary to compute calcium carbonate saturation state. Our data were compared with observations made at the Hawaii Ocean Time-series site at Station ALOHA and with hydrographic data collected on the WOCE lines in the North Pacific around the archipelago. We did not detect a carbonate dissolution halo around the islands. We conclude that the previously observed halo was probably an analytical artifact, or possibly a result of extreme variability in carbon chemistry surrounding the islands.


Thompson R. W., Dickson A. G., Kahng S. E. & Winn C. D., in press. Nearshore carbonate dissolution in the Hawaiian Archipelago? Aquatic Geochemistry. Article.


  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: