Non-combustible suspended matter in surface waters off eastern Asia*


  • *

    Contribution no. 3276 of the Woods Hole Oceanogrpahic Instituion.


A total of about 1100 well-distributed samples of suspended matter in surface waters off the length of eastern Asia are available. From these samples, 180 were selected for detailed examination of the non-combustible fraction using optical and electron microscopy along with computer methods of particle measurement and counting. The results showed that, generally, all major components of the suspended matter are most abundant in the nearshore belt (combustible fraction, mineral grains of silt size, skeletal debris, and clay minerals), the result of mechanical transport of detrital sediment and chemical transport of nutrients from the land. Mineral grains of silt size average about 2%, skeletal debris plus clay minerals—23%, and combustible organic matter—75% of total sample weights, but the last two categories vary over a wide range depending upon geographical positions of the samples. Most evident is an oceanward decrease in percentage and concentration of the total noncombustible fraction and an oceanward increase in median diameter of the mineral grains.