Perturbations of the Natural Lead Depth Profile in the Sargasso Sea by Industrial Lead

  • Bernhard K. Schaule
  • Clair C. Patterson
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 9)


Concentrations of dissolved lead were determined by isotope dilution mass spectrometry in 17 seawater samples of a depth profile collected under strict contamination control at a station in the northern Sargasso Sea, 250 km northwest of Bermuda. Dissolved lead concentrations were about 170 pmol•kg −1 from the surface down to 400 m, then declined sharply to relatively constant values of 25 pmol•kg−1 below 2000 m depth. This large concentration enrichment in the upper part of the water column is concordant with the distribution observed earlier in the central northeast Pacific, and it confirms the unique character of the occurrence of lead in open ocean water columns: the depth profile for lead differs markedly from those for most other trace metals, which show concentration depletions in surface waters instead.

Lead concentrations at the Sargasso Sea station are about 3-fold larger in surface and thermocline waters, and about 5-fold larger in deep waters than in the northeast Pacific which can be explained as resulting from an eolian input flux of industrial lead to the North Atlantic at least 3-fold higher than in the North Pacific.1 The residence times of lead in the different portions of the water column are similar to those estimated for the North Pacific. As a consequence of the short residence times in the deep ocean, the vertical lead profile is probably significantly different from steady state due to recent anthropogenic inputs. Geographic distributions of lead contrast with those for most other trace metals by showing lower concentrations in North Pacific deep waters compared to those in the North Atlantic. This difference is a result of the fact that the residence times of most trace metals are longer than the transit times of the deep water masses, while the residence time of lead is shorter than those transit times.


Water Column Isotopic Composition Trace Metal Lead Concentration Gulf Stream 
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. 1.
    Schaule, B.K. and C.C. Patterson, 1981: Lead concentrations in the northeast Pacific: evidence for global anthropogenic perturbations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 54, 97 - 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Schaule, R., 1979: Zur ozeanischen Geochemie des Bleis -Nachweis einer anthropogenen Störung anhand kontaminationskontrollierter Bleikonze ntrationsmessungen im offenen Nord-Pazifik. Dissertation, Universität Heidelberg, West Germany, 165 pp.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Patterson, C.C. and D.M. Settle, 1976: The reduction of order of magnitude errors in lead analyses of biological materials and natural waters by evaluating and controlling the extent and sources of industrial lead contamination introduced during sample collecting and analysis. In: “Accuracy in Trace Analysis: Sampling, Sample Handling, Analysis”, P. LaFleur, ed. National Bureau of Standards Special Publication, 422, 321 - 351.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Schaule, B.K. and C.C. Patterson, 1981: A deep water collection device which provides seawater samples free of lead contamination. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bruland, K.W. and R.P. Franks: Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn and Cd in the Western North Atlantic (this volume).Google Scholar
  6. Participants of the lead in seawater workshop, Interlaboratory lead analyses of standardized samples of seawater, Marine Chemistry 2 (1974) 69-84; - C.C. Patterson, D.M. Settle, J. Bewers, S. Hartling, R. Duce, P. Walsh, W. Fitzgerald, C.D. Hunt, H. Windom, R. Smith, C.S. Wong and P. Berrang, 1976: Comparison determinations of lead by investigators analyzing individual samples of seawater in both their home laboratory and in an isotope dilution standardization laboratory. Mar. Chem., 4, 389-392.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Patterson, C.C., D.M. Settle and B. Glover, 1976: Analysis of lead in polluted coastal seawater. Marine Chemistry, 4, 305 - 319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ng, A., B. Schaule, K. Bruland and C.C. Patterson, 1981: Concentrations of common lead and 210Pb and isotopic compositions of lead in surface waters of the North Atlantic. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  9. Chung, Y. and H. Craig, 1973: Radium-226 in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 17, 306.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nozaki, Y., K.K. Turekian and K. Van Damm, 1980: Pb-210 in GEOSECS water profiles from the North Pacific. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 49, 393-400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chung, Y., 1976: A deep 226Ra maximum in the Northeast Pacific. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 32, 249-257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Murozumi, M, T.J. Chow and C.C. Patterson, 1969: Chemical concentrations of pollutant lead aerosols, terrestrial dusts and sea salts in Greenland and Antarctic snow strata. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta., 33, 1247-1294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    D. Settle and C.C. Patterson, 1980: Lead in albacore: guide to lead pollution in Americans. Science, 207, 1167 - 1176.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Robbins, J.A., 1978: Geochemical and geophysical applications of radioactive lead, In: “The Biogeochemistry of Lead in the Environment”, J.O. Nriagu, ed., Part A, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 285 - 394.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Turekian, K.K., 1977: The fate of metals in the oceans. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta., 41, 1139-1144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Broecker, W.S., 1974: Chemical Oceanography, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 214 pp.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Settle, D.M. and C.C. Patterson, 1981: Summary Report to NSF, Grant OCE 77 - 14520.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ng, A. and C.C. Patterson, 1981: Natural concentrations of lead in ancient Arctic and Antarctic ice. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta., 45, 2109-2121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Horn, D.R., M.N. Delach and B.M. Horn, 1974: Physical properties of sedimentary provinces, North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans, In: “Deep Sea Sediments”, A.L. Inderbitzen, ed., Plenum Press, New York, 417 - 461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Chow, T.J. and C.C. Patterson, 1962: The occurrence and significance of lead isotopes in pelagic sediments. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta., 26, 263-308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Chow, T.J., J.L. Earl and C.B. Snyder, 1980: Lead isotopes in Atlantic DSDP cores, In: “Isotope marine geochemistry”, E.D. Goldberg, Y. Horibe and K. Saruhashi, eds., Uchida Rokakuho Publishing Co., Tokyo, 399 - 412.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nozaki, Y., J. Thomson and K.K. Turekian, 1976: The distribution of Pb-210 and Po-210 in the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 32, 304-312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Settle, D.M., C.C. Patterson, K.K. Turekian and J.K. Cochran, 1980: Common lead and 210Pb concentrations in precipitation at tropical oceanic sites. Jour. Geophys. Res. In press.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Benningger, L.K., E.P. Dion and K.K. Turekian, 1981: 7Be and L10pb precipitation fluxes at New Haven Conn. and Bermuda. In preparation.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ng, A. and C.C. Patterson, 1981: Upper limit contributions of lead from the oceans to the atmosphere determined in seaspray generated by a bubble interfacial microlayer samples. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Duce, R.A., G.L. Horrmann, B.J. Ray, I.S. Fletscher, G.T. Wallace, J.L. Fasching, S.R. Piotrowicz, P.R. Walsh, E.J. Hoffmann, J.M. Miller Heffter, 1976: Trace metals in the marine atmosphere: Sources and fluxes, In: “Marine Pollutant Transfer”, H. Windom and R.A. Duce, eds., Heath and Co., Lexington, MA, 77 - 119.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Turekian, K.K., Y. Nozaki and L.K. Benninger, 1977: Geochemistry of atmospheric radon products. Ann. Rev. Earth. Planet. Sci., 5, 227-255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Nriagu, J.O., 1978: Lead in the atmosphere, In: “The biogeochemistry of lead in the environment”, J. O. Nriagu, ed., Part A, 137 - 174.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Landing, W.M. and K.W. Bruland, 1980: Manganese in the North Pacific. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 49, 45-56.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    Martin, J.H. and G.A. Knauer, 1980: Manganese cycling in the Northeast Pacific waters. Earth. Planet. Sci. Lett., 51, 266-274.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Redfield, A.C., B.H. Ketchum and R.A. Richards, 1963: The influence of organisms on the composition of sea water, In: “The Sea”, Vol. II, E.D. Goldberg, ed., 26 - 77.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Chan, L.H., D. Drummond, J.M. Edmond and B. Grant, 1977: On the Ba data from the Atlantic GEOSECS expedition. Deep Sea Research, 24, 613 - 649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Burnett, M.W. and C.C. Patterson, 1981: Perturbation of natural lead transport in nutrient calcium pathways of marine ecosystems by industrial lead, In: “Isotope Marine Geochemistry”, E.D. Goldberg, Y. Horibe and K. Saruhashi, eds., Uchida Rokakuho Publishing Co., Tokyo, 413 - 438.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Craig, H., S. Krishnaswami and B.L.K. Somayajulu, 1973: 210pb, 226 Ra: radioactive disequilibrium in the deep sea. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 17, 295-305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bacon, M.P., D.W. Spencer and P.G. Brewer, 1980: Lead-210 and Polonium-210 as marine geochemical tracers: Review and discussion of results from the Labrador Sea, In: “Natural Radiation Environment III”, T.F. Gesell and W.F. Lowder, eds., U.S. Dept. Energy Report CONF780422, Vol. 1, 473 - 501.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Bacon, M.P., D.W. Spencer and P.G. Brewer, 1976: Pb-210/ Ra-226 and Po-210/Pb-210 disequilibria in seawater and suspended particulate matter. Earth Plan. Sci. Lett., 32, 277-296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Unruh, D.M. and M. Tatsumoto: Lead isotopic composition and uranium, thorium and lead concentrations in sediments and basalts from the Nazca Plate. Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project (1976), 34, 341 - 347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Piepgras, D.J. and G.J. Wasserburg, 1980: Neodymium isotopic variations in seawater. Earth Planet. Sci. Letters, 50, 128-138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ng., A. and C.C. Patterson, 1981: Changes of Pb and Ba with time in California off-shore basin sediments. Submitted to Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Flegal, A.R., B.K. Schaule, D.M. Settle and C.C. Patterson, 1981: Lead Concentrations and stable isotopic compositions in surface waters of the Central Pacific. Abstract, meeting, Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernhard K. Schaule
    • 1
  • Clair C. Patterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Geological and Planetary SciencesCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

Personalised recommendations