The Double Silica Maximum in the North Pacific

Talley, LD, Joyce TM.  1992.  The Double Silica Maximum in the North Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 97:5465-5480.

Date Published:



biogenic silica, circulation, dissolved silica, ocean, sediments, water


The North Pacific has two vertical silica maxima. The well-known intermediate maximum occurs between 2000 and 2500 m with a potential density relative to 2000 dbar of 36.90 in the northeastern Pacific. The deep maximum, which has not been observed extensively before, is found at or near the ocean bottom in the northern North Pacific in a narrow latitude range. Maps of silica on isopycnals which intersect the intermediate and bottom maxima show that the lowest silica is found in the western tropical North Pacific, suggesting a route for the spread of South Pacific water into the deep North Pacific. Low-silica water is found along the western boundary of the North Pacific, with a separate broad tongue south of Hawaii. The highest silica on both isopycnals is in the northeast Pacific. A bottom maximum in the Cascadia Basin in the northeastern Pacific can be differentiated from both open-ocean maxima. Four sources for the vertical maxima are considered: in situ dissolution of sinking panicles, bottom sediment dissolution, hydrothermal venting, and upslope advection in the northeastern Pacific. Because not enough is known about any of these sources, only rough estimates of their contributions can be made. The bottom maximum is most likely to result from bottom sediment dissolution but requires a flux larger than some current direct estimates. The Cascadia Basin bottom maximum may result from both bottom sediment dissolution and hydrothermal venting. The intermediate maximum is likely to result primarily from dissolution of sinking particles. There is no quantitative estimate of the effect of possible upslope advection or enhancement of bottom fluxes due to the Columbia River outflow.