Trace metal composition of colloidal organic material in marine environments Academic Article uri icon


  • Marine colloidal material (1 kDa-0.2 m) was isolated by cross-flow ultrafiltration followed by diafiltration and freeze-drying from surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Middle Atlantic Bight (MAB), as well as from estuarine waters of Galveston Bay. Elemental characterization of isolated colloidal material included organic carbon (OC) and selected trace metal (Cu, Pb, Zn, Cd, Co, Ni, Cr, Be, Fe, Al, Mn, V, Ba, and Ti) determinations. It was found that levels of these metals in marine colloids ranged from < 0.1 to 50 g/g colloidal matter, except for Fe which generally had a concentration > 120 g/g. Most metals (Cu, Pb, Zn, Ni, Al, Mn, V, and Ti) had an average concentration > 1 g/g while concentrations of Cd, Co and Be were usually < 1 g/g. Metal concentrations (g/g) in isolated colloids were, in general, higher in Galveston Bay than in the Gulf of Mexico, suggesting either high abundance of trace metals in estuarine waters or differences in organic matter composition. Higher colloidal metal concentrations in the MAB than in the Gulf of Mexico might be due to higher terrestrial inputs in the MAB. Colloidal metal concentrations (g/g) were generally lower than those in average soils, continental crust and suspended particles. However, metal/aluminum ratios (Me/Al in isolated marine colloids were significantly higher than those for average soils and continental crust. Most importantly, colloids had a metal composition and metal/OC ratio (Me/C) similar to humic substances and marine plankton, suggesting that marine colloids largely originate from planktonic sources and are composed of predominately organic components. The Me/C ratios of Galveston Bay colloids followed the sequence of Cu > Ni, Cr, Zn > Mn > Co > Pb, Cd, which is similar to the Irving-Williams order except for Mn, suggesting that the interaction of metals with marine colloids is determined by the affinity of metals for specific organic ligands. 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

published proceedings

  • Marine Chemistry

author list (cited authors)

  • Guo, L., Santschi, P. H., & Warnken, K. W.

citation count

  • 79

complete list of authors

  • Guo, Laodong||Santschi, Peter H||Warnken, Kent W

publication date

  • June 2000