Properties of coarse particles in suspended particulate matter of the North Yellow Sea during summer

  • Kainan Zhang (张凯南)
  • Zhenyan Wang (王珍岩)
  • Wenjian Li (李文建)
  • Jun Yan (阎军)


Fine particles in seawater commonly form large porous aggregates. Aggregate density and settling velocity determine the behavior of this suspended particulate matter (SPM) within the water column. However, few studies of aggregate particles over a continental shelf have been undertaken. In our case study, properties of aggregate particles, including size and composition, over the continental shelf of the North Yellow Sea were investigated. During a scientific cruise in July 2016, in situ effective particle size distributions of SPM at 10 stations were measured, while temperature and turbidity measurements and samples of water were obtained from surface, middle, and bottom layers. Dispersed and inorganic particle size distributions were determined in the laboratory. The in situ SPM was divided into (1) small particles (<32 μm), (2) medium particles (32–256 μm) and (3) large particles (>256 μm). Large particles and medium particles dominated the total volume concentrations (VCs) of in situ SPM. After dispersion, the VCs of medium particles decreased to low values (<0.1 μL/L). The VCs of large particles in the surface and middle layers also decreased markedly, although they had higher peak values (0.1–1 μL/L). This suggests that almost all in situ medium particles and some large particles were aggregated, while other large particles were single particles. Correlation analysis showed that primary particles <32 μm influenced the formation of these aggregates. Microscopic examination revealed that these aggregates consisted of both organic and inorganic fine particles, while large particles were mucus-bound organic aggregates or individual plankton. The vertical distribution of coarser particles was clearly related to water stratification. Generally, medium aggregate particles were dominant in SPM of the bottom layer. A thermocline blocked resuspension of fine material into upper layers, yielding low VCs of medium-sized aggregate particles in the surface layer. Abundant large biogenic particles were present in both surface and middle layers.


suspended particulate matter (SPM) coarse particles aggregates North Yellow Sea laser in situ scattering and transmissometery (LISST) 


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Data acquisition and sample collection were supported by the NSFC Open Research Cruise (Cruise No. NORC2016-06), funded by the Shiptime Sharing Project of the NSFC. Field research was carried out onboard R/V Dongfanghong 2 of the Ocean University of China.


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Copyright information

© Chinese Society for Oceanology and Limnology, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kainan Zhang (张凯南)
    • 1
    • 3
  • Zhenyan Wang (王珍岩)
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wenjian Li (李文建)
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jun Yan (阎军)
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Marine Geology and Environment, Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Marine Mineral ResourcesQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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