Mie-Theory Models of Light Scattering by Ocean Particulates

  • Howard R. Gordon
Part of the Marine Science book series (MR, volume 4)


The general application of Mie theory to the study of the volume-scattering function, VSF, for oceanic particles is discussed in detail. The problem examined is the combination of Coulter counter measurements and the theory in order to enhance our understanding of the size-refractive index distributions of the sea water particles, First single-component models (one scattering species) are examined and compared with the Sargasso Sea VSF. These models yield an average refractive index m̄ relative to water. Questions concerning the meaning of m̄ require the investigation of simple two-component models consisting of low-index organic particles, and high-index inorganics. These models are systematically studied and result (again for the Sargasso Sea) in the conclusion that the inorganic particles occupy large size ranges while the organic particles are confined to small sizes. Similar studies in the Tongue of the Ocean in the Bahama Islands indicate the necessity of three-component models, which place organic particles in small and large size ranges and inorganic particles in midsizes. This model predicts a VSF in good agreement with observation, and indicates that most of the scattering is due to the inorganic particles, with the large-size organic particles (phytoplankton) contributing only at small angles. This suggests the possibility of monitoring phytoplankton populations in coastal areas through simultaneous measurement of small- and large-angle scattering, for which a preliminary experimental verification is presented. A relaxation of the constraints on the three-component model consistent with the observed VSF has been effected and provides very general limitations on the size distribution in size ranges where it cannot be measured. A simple method for determination of the average refractive index of particles is presented and its limitations are discussed in detail.


Suspended Particulate Matter Coulter Counter Inorganic Particle Average Refractive Index Large Size Range 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bader, H., The hyperbolic distribution of particle sizes, J. Geophys. Res., 75, 2822, 1970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown, O. B., Light scattering by ocean-borne particulates, PhD Thesis, University of Miami, 1973.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, O. B. and H. R. Gordon, Two-component Mie scattering models of Sargasso Sea particulates, Applied Optics, 12, 2461, 1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gordon, H. R. and O. B. Brown, Small-angle Mie scattering calculations for low-index hydrosols, J. Opt. Soc. Am., 61, 1549, 1971.Google Scholar
  5. Gordon, H. R. and O. B. Brown, A theoretical model of light scattering by Sargasso Sea Particulates, Limnol. Ooeanogr., 17, 826, 1972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gordon, H. R. and O. B. Brown and H. Bader, An experimental study of suspended particulate matter in the Tongue of the Ocean and its influence on underwater visibility, Final Report Contract No. F08605–7-C-0028, Air Force Eastern Test Range Measurements Laboratory, 1972.Google Scholar
  7. Kullenberg, G., Scattering of light by Sargasso Sea Water, DeepSea Res., 15, 423, 1968.Google Scholar
  8. McCluney, W. R., Small-angle light scattering studies of marine phytoplankton, Ph.D Thesis, University of Miami, 1973.Google Scholar
  9. Mertens, L. E. and D. L. Phillips, Measurements of the volume scattering function of sea water. Tech. Rep., 334, Range Measurements Laboratory Patrick AFB, Florida, 1972.Google Scholar
  10. Mie, G., Beitrage zur optik truber Medien, speziell kolloidalen Metal-losingen, Ann. Phys., 25, 377, 1908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Zaneveld, J. R. V., and H. Pak, Method for determination of the index of refraction of particles suspended in the ocean, J. Opt. Soc. Am., 63, 321, 1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard R. Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MiamiUSA

Personalised recommendations