National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1992

Sampling of marine particulate matter and analysis by x-ray fluorescence spectrometry

Feely, R.A., G.J. Massoth, and G.T. Lebon

Geophysical Monograph 63, 251–257, doi: 10.1029/GM063p0251, In Marine Particles: Analysis and Characterization, AGU, Washington, D.C. (1991)

Over the past fifteen years our laboratory has been involved with a variety of research studies that required large numbers of analyses of samples of marine particulate matter from estuarine, coastal and open-ocean environments. The common theme of all of these studies has been to provide a better understanding of how chemical reactions involving marine particles affect the composition of seawater and the underlying sediments. During the course of these studies, we have endeavored to develop a variety of procedures for collection, preservation and analysis of several different types of particulate samples. These range from nearly-pure biogenic matter from plankton blooms to mostly inorganic fine-grained resuspended sediments. In some instances, the inorganic matter might be highly reactive, as is the situation when we study newly-formed Fe- and Mn oxyhydroxide and sulfide particles emitted from deep-sea hot springs on mid-ocean ridges. In other cases, the particulate samples may be very delicate and subject to rapid dissolution during recovery and processing. In all of these situations, we had to develop specialized techniques to maintain the physical and chemical integrity of the samples from the time of sampling to the completion of the analytical workup. What follows below is a general description of our basic methods for collection, preservation and analysis of particulate samples from the marine environment. Since most of our work has been involved with studies of the changes in their elemental concentration, we will confine this discussion to methods for analysis of the elemental composition of suspended matter.

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