Biogeochemistry of arsenic and antimony in the North Pacific Ocean

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Abstract

The biogeochemical cycles of the metalloid elements arsenic and antimony were examined along a 15,000 km surface water transect and at 9 vertical profile stations in the western North Pacific Ocean as part of the 2002 IOC Contaminant Baseline Survey. Results show that the speciation of dissolved arsenic (As III, As V, and methylated As) was subtly controlled by the arsenate (AsV)/phosphate ratio. An additional fraction of presumed organic arsenic previously reported in coastal waters was also present (∼15% of the total As) in oceanic surface waters. Dissolved inorganic antimony displayed mildly scavenged behavior that was confirmed by correlations with aluminum, but atmospheric inputs that may be anthropogenic in origin also affected its concentrations. Monomethyl antimony, the predominant organic form of the element, behaved almost conservatively throughout the water column, radically changing the known biogeochemical cycle of antimony.

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