Mercury Concentrations in the North Atlantic in Relation to Cadmium, Aluminium and Oceanographic Parameters

  • Jón Ólafsson
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 9)


The water masses investigated are derived from both arctic and temperate regions. The mean reactive mercury concentration in 73 samples is 8.5± 3.5 pmol 1−1 and the mean total mercury concentration in 47 samples is 11± 5.0 pmol 1−1. The The mercury distribution is dissimilar to both that of cadmium and aluminium and it has not a simple correlation with dissolved silicate. The cadmium distribution is strongly related to the nutrients nitrate and phosphate, but the Δ Cd: Δ NO3 and Δ Cd: Δ PO4 slope values are significantly lower than have been found in the Pacific. The aluminium concentrations range from 8.1–25 nmol 1−1 and increase generally with depth. At a deep station south of Iceland with Irminger Water at intermediate depths, this water mass had significantly higher mercury concentrations, reactive 17 pmol 1−1, than the surface or bottom water. It is suggested that atmospheric input of mercury may have been effective when this water mass formed by deep convective mixing in winter. The East Greenland Current which receives glacial melt water has low mercury concentrations, 7.0± 3.5 pmol 1−1, insignificantly different from Arctic Intermediate Water, 9.5± 3.5 pmol 1−1, or Arctic Bottom Water, 11± 2.5 pmol 1−1. Previous hypotheses of large scale effects of geothermal mercury emanations are examined and it is concluded that the proximity alone of a water body to a site of such an activity is no indication of its mercury concentration.


Mercury Concentration Total Mercury Concentration North ATLANTIC High Mercury Concentration East Greenland Current 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jón Ólafsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Research InstituteReykjavikIceland

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