Trace metals in the open oceans: speciation modelling based on humic-type ligands

Anthony Stockdale, Edward Tipping, John Hamilton-Taylor, Stephen Lofts
  • Environmental Chemistry, January 2011, CSIRO Publishing
  • DOI: 10.1071/en11004

Modelling dissolved metal behaviour in the oceans

What is it about?

The behaviour of dissolved trace metals in the oceans is typically explained by invoking the concept of metal binding to specific organic chemicals (for example chemical released by aquatic plants to make it easier for them to take up essential metals). Here, using a chemical model widely used for freshwaters, we assess the extent to which non-specific organic chemicals found in the ocean (from decaying dead plants and animals) may predict the forms of cationic metals.

Why is it important?

We found that the model can give good fits in some cases, and that experimental results do not give consistent variation from the model. This has implications for the way that the availability of trace elements is considered in ocean environments.


Anthony Stockdale

Since this paper was published there seems to be a gradual shift in acceptance that the organic matter from degradation of previously living organisms (that forms most of the pool of organic matter) is the most important dissolved component driving the chemistry of essential elements such as iron and copper. It is my hope that future programmes of work will investigate the dissolved organic carbon alongside the distribution of metal forms - something that has been missing from many big projects in the recent past.

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The following have contributed to this page: Anthony Stockdale