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Ocean Water Chapter 14. Composition of seawater. Seawater consists of about 3.5% (by weight) dissolved minerals Salinity Total amount of solid material dissolved in water Typically expressed in parts-per-thousand (‰) Average salinity is 35‰ Major constituent is sodium chloride .

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Ocean water chapter 14 l.jpg

Ocean Water

Chapter 14


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Composition of seawater

  • Seawater consists of about 3.5% (by weight) dissolved minerals

  • Salinity

    • Total amount of solid material dissolved in water

    • Typically expressed in parts-per-thousand (‰)

    • Average salinity is 35‰

    • Major constituent is sodium chloride


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Relative proportions of water and dissolved components in seawater

Figure 14.1


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Composition of seawater

  • Sources of sea salts

    • Chemical weathering of rocks

    • Outgassing – gases from volcanic eruptions

  • Processes affecting seawater salinity

    • Variations in salinity are a consequence of changes in the water content of the solution


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Composition of seawater

  • Processes affecting seawater salinity

    • Surface salinity in the open ocean ranges from 33‰ to 38‰


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Composition of seawater

  • Processes affecting seawater salinity

    • Processes that decrease salinity (add water)

      • Precipitation

      • Runoff from land

      • Icebergs melting

      • Sea ice melting

    • Processes that increase salinity (remove water)

      • Evaporation

      • Formation of sea ice


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Variations in the ocean’s surface temperature and salinity with latitude

Figure 14.3


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Ocean temperature

  • Temperature variation with depth

    • Low-latitudes

      • High temperature at the surface

      • Rapid decrease in temperature with depth (thermocline)

    • High-latitudes

      • Cooler surface temperatures

      • No rapid change in temperature with depth



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Ocean density

  • Density is mass per unit volume - how heavy something is for its size

  • Determines the water’s vertical position in the ocean

    • Saltier water is more dense ~ sinks

  • Factors affecting seawater density

    • Salinity

    • Temperature - the greatest influence



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Ocean density

  • Ocean layering

    • Layered according to density

    • Three-layered structure

      • Surface mixed zone

      • Transition zone

      • Deep zone


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Where does the salt come from?

  • Chemical weathering

    • at about 2.5 billion tons per year

  • In the hydrologic cycle notice that fresh water is transported to the sea

    • carrying sediments (salts)

    • sodium transported via from overland flow.


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Why aren’t streams/rivers salty?

  • Lack some of the basic salts

  • No Chlorine for example


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Where does Cl come from

  • Volcanic outgassing from emergent and submergent structures

    • Source of chlorine and other dissolved salts

  • Deep thermal vents confirmed in 1970s

    • with discovery of superheated vents 350C

    • mineral chimneys


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Where does the salt go?

  • Salinity is not increasing

  • Material must be removed at the same rate in order to maintain a steady salinity

  • Uptake by organisms to make hard parts (shells)

  • Precipitate to form sediments


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Origin of Ocean Water

  • Can’t look to the hydrologic cycle.

    • Can’t have evaporation w/o precipitation

  • Matter of “educated speculation”

  • Condensed from hot vaporized cloud

    • As heavier radioactive elements sank towards the core, water was “boiled off” into a vapor cloud that eventually cooled and precipitated

  • Condensed from core materials

    • High concentration of hydrogen and oxygen in mantle. 

    • Water may form and be excreted to the surface with magma, as crystallization occurs

    • water is a by-product and accumulates over billions of years


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Ocean life

  • Marine environment is inhabited by a wide variety of organisms

  • Most organisms live within the sunlight surface waters (photosynthesis)

  • Classification of marine organisms

    • Plankton

      • Floaters

      • Algae (phytoplankton)


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Ocean life

  • Classification of marine organisms

    • Benthos

      • Bottom dwellers

      • A great number of species exist on the shallow coastal floor

      • Most live in perpetual darkness in deep water


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Ocean life

  • Marine life zones

    • Several factors are used to divide the ocean into distinct marine life zones

      • Availability of light

        • Photic (light) zone

          • Upper part of ocean

          • Sunlit

          • Euphotic zone is near the surface where the light is strong


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Ocean life

  • Marine life zones

    • Several factors are used to divide the ocean into distinct marine life zones

      • Availability of light

        • Aphotic (without light) zone

          • Deep ocean

          • No sunlight


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Ocean life

  • Marine life zones

    • Several factors are used to divide the ocean into distinct marine life zones

      • Distance from shore

        • Intertidal zone – area where land and ocean meet and overlap

        • Neritic zone – seaward from the low tide line, the continental shelf out to the shelf break

        • Oceanic zone – beyond the continental shelf


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Ocean life

  • Marine life zones

    • Several factors are used to divide the ocean into distinct marine life zones

      • Water depth

        • Pelagic zone – open ocean of any depth

        • Benthic zone – includes any sea-bottom surface

        • Abyssal zone – a subdivision of the benthic zone

          • Deep

          • Extremely high water pressure

          • Low temperatures


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Ocean life

  • Marine life zones

    • Several factors are used to divide the ocean into distinct marine life zones

      • Water depth

        • Abyssal zone – a subdivision of the benthic zone

          • No sunlight

          • Sparse life

          • Food sources include decaying particles from above, large fragments falling, and hydrothermal vents


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Marine life zones

Figure 14.10


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Ecosystem energy flow and efficiency

Figure 14.15



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