Water–rock partition coefficients and the composition of seawater and river water

Abstract

Using a simple chemical reactor model a strong correlation is established between the mean oceanic residence time of an element and the partitioning of that element between seawater and crustal rock. The ocean-rock partition coefficient (Ky(sw)) is shown to be related to the electrostatic contribution to the element–oxygen bond energy (Qyo) and a second correlation is established between these parameters. In this way the concentrations of all the elements so far identified in seawater fall in a coherent pattern. The global mean composition of river water, which represents an intermediate step in the formation of seawater from rock weathering, is shown to conform to a similar pattern.

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Whitfield, M., Turner, D. Water–rock partition coefficients and the composition of seawater and river water. Nature 278, 132–137 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1038/278132a0

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