Ikaite (CaCO3·6H2O) has only recently been discovered in sea ice, in a study that also provided first direct evidence of CaCO3 precipitation in sea ice. However, little is as yet known about the impact of physico-chemical processes on ikaite precipitation in sea ice. Our study focused on how the changes in pH, salinity, temperature and phosphate (PO4) concentration affect the precipitation of ikaite. Experiments were set up at pH from 8.5 to 10.0, salinities from 0 to 105 (in both artificial seawater (ASW) and NaCl medium), temperatures from 0 to −4 °C andPO4 concentrations from0 to 50 μmol kg−1. The results show that in ASW, calcium carbonate was precipitated as ikaite under all conditions. In the NaCl medium, the precipitates were ikaite in the presence of PO4 and vaterite in the absence of PO4. The onset time (τ) at which ikaite precipitation started, decreased nonlinearly with increasing pH. In ASW, τ increased with salinity. In the NaCl medium, τ first increased with salinity up to salinity 70 and subsequently decreased with a further increase in salinity; it was longer in ASW than in the NaCl medium under the same salinity. τ did not vary with temperature or PO4 concentration. These results indicate that ikaite is very probably the only phase of calcium carbonate formed in sea ice. PO4 is not, as previously postulated, crucial for ikaite formation in sea ice. The change in pH and salinity is the controlling factor for ikaite precipitation in sea ice. Within the ranges investigated in this study, temperature and PO4 concentration do not have a significant impact on ikaite precipitation.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut