Soluble manganese(III) [Mn(III)] has been thought to disproportionate to soluble Mn(II) and particulate MnIVO2 in natural waters, although it persists as complexes in laboratory solutions. We report that, in the Black Sea, soluble Mn(III) concentrations were as high as 5 micromolar and constituted up to 100% of the total dissolved Mn pool. Depth profiles indicated that soluble Mn(III) was produced at the top of the suboxic zone by Mn(II) oxidation and at the bottom of the suboxic zone by MnIVO2 reduction, then stabilized in each case by unknown natural ligands. We also found micromolar concentrations of dissolved Mn(III) in the Chesapeake Bay. Dissolved Mn(III) can maintain the existence of suboxic zones because it can act as either an electron acceptor or donor. Our data indicate that Mn(III) should be ubiquitous at all water column and sediment oxic/anoxic interfaces in the environment.
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