Authigenic formation of clay minerals in the abyssal North Pacific

Zvi Steiner*, James W. B. Rae, William M. Berelson, Jess F. Adkins, Yi Hou, Sijia Dong, Giulio I. Lampronti, Xuewu Liu, Eric P. Achterberg, Adam V. Subhas, Alexandra V. Turchyn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Present estimates of the biogeochemical cycles of calcium, strontium and potassium in the ocean reveal large imbalances between known input and output fluxes. Using pore fluid, incubation and solid sediment data from North Pacific multi-corer cores we show that, contrary to the common paradigm, the top centimetres of abyssal sediments can be an active site of authigenic precipitation of clay minerals. In this region, clay authigenesis is the dominant sink for potassium and strontium and consumes nearly all calcium released from benthic dissolution of calcium carbonates. These observations support the idea that clay authigenesis occurring over broad regions of the world ocean may be a major buffer for ocean chemistry on the time scale of the ocean overturning circulation, and key to the long-term stability of Earth's climate.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GB007270
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number11
Early online date10 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2022


  • Reverse weathering
  • Clay authigenesis
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Porewater
  • Strontium


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