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Oceanic Fate and Transport of Chemicals

  • Robert P. MasonEmail author
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Abstract

or their consumers, are nonessential elements or compounds, or are major components with essentially uniform concentration across the ocean system. Given that there are over 100 elements on Earth, and a finite but very large number of organic chemicals, derived either from an original biochemical source or manufactured by humans, it would be impossible to deal with all these compounds and elements in any detail. Therefore, while this chapter contains a description of the cycling of compounds through the marine environment and identifies the main pathways of movement and the major sources and sinks for compounds, in both the solid and dissolved phases, the focus of the discussion is a smaller list of/or their consumers, are nonessential elements or compounds, or are major components with essentially uniform concentration across the ocean system. Given that there are over 100 elements on Earth, and a finite but very large number of organic chemicals, derived either from an original biochemical source or manufactured by humans, it would be impossible to deal with all these compounds and elements in any detail. Therefore, while this chapter contains a description of the cycling of compounds through the marine environment and identifies the main pathways of movement and the major sources and sinks for compounds, in both the solid and dissolved phases, the focus of the discussion is a smaller list of compounds whose inputs to the ocean and whose fate and transport have important consequences for oceanic life and the environmental health of the ocean and the biosphere in general. The four main groups of elements/compounds and their fate and transport, and how these have changed in the recent and geological past, and the consequences of these changes on the ocean are described.

Keywords

Surface Ocean Ocean Water Open Ocean Deep Ocean Hydrothermal Vent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Glossary

Anthropogenic

Produced by or derived from human-related activities.

Biogeochemical cycling

The overall transport of chemicals through the ocean waters as modified by chemical, physical, and biological processes.

Chemical inputs

The external sources of chemicals to the ocean from the atmosphere or from deep ocean environments or from rivers and other terrestrial sources.

Chemical sinks

All elements and compounds can be removed from the ocean by various processes. The relative ratio of their input to their removal provides an indication of how they are distributed in the ocean, and whether human activity has increased their ocean concentration.

Major ions and nutrients

Those chemicals present in the ocean at high concentrations and the major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and silica).

Metalloid

An element in the periodic table that acts both as a metal and a nonmetal, depending on the chemical environment.

Micronutrients and trace elements

Those chemicals present in the ocean at low concentrations but which still have an important impact of ocean biological productivity, either because they are essential nutrients (e.g., iron and zinc) or toxic compounds (e.g., lead and mercury).

Organic chemicals

In the context of this chapter these are chemicals manufactured purposely (e.g., PCBs, pesticides) or inadvertently (e.g., dioxins) by humans, and also released to the environment by human activity (petroleum compounds).

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Organic compounds that are stable in the environmental and not rapidly degraded and which are also bioaccumulative through the food chain and potentially toxic to organisms.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine Sciences & ChemistryUniversity of ConnecticutGrotonUSA

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