The Continental-Ocean Boundary as a Marginal Filter in the World Oceans

  • A. P. Lisitzin
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASEN2, volume 59)


On global scales a marginal filter is found as a rather narrow belt where mixing of fresh fluvial water and saline seawater occurs. The two types of waters have quite different compositions of suspended matter, dissolved material and biota. The processes that take place in a marginal filter are unique. There is not merely mixing, but a combination of a variety of physical, chemical and biological transformations which may lead to up to 90–95% of suspended particles and 20–40% of dissolved substances of the fluvial water masses sedimenting.

Five successive stages of filter operation have been identified: three abiotic and two biotic. Of special significance is the formation of natural sorbents with flocculation and coagulation of dissolved (colloidal) forms of organic matter, iron and some other elements. Of sorbents argilleous (claylike) materials are of major importance (15.2 Gt); organic matter (OM) ranks second, (360 × 106 t as suspended matter and 80–90 106 t as floccules), while Fe ranks third (1.28 106 t of newly formed and 170 106 t of decrystallized oxyhydrates per year). Al and Mn play less significant roles.

A substantial part of dissolved elemental forms is captured (i.e. transferred into suspended particles) by phytoplankton and afterwards removed from the water column by filtering organisms, (zooplankton and benthos).

Thus the marginal filter governs the concentration of substances derived from land (including pollutants), and in certain areas (deposition centres), determines the geochemistry of many elements, including the carbon cycle and contaminants. A transect through the marginal filter shows that on the landward side the main form of most elements is as suspended material and seaward of the filter as dissolved material.


Bottom Sediment River Mouth Suspended Particulate Matter Dissolve Organic Matter Suspended Matter 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. P. Lisitzin
    • 1
  1. 1.P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology Russian Academy of SciecesMoscowRrussia

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