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Abstract  

Uranium shows relatively conservative behaviour in seawater because of the formation of stable carbonato complexes, whereas particulate uranium, involved in suspended particles with the particle size of more than 0.45 m, is a minor constituent. It was found that particulate uranium, with a range from 0.24 to 39 Bq·1–1, varies spatially and temporally. Its highest concentration occurs in the tropical region of the western North Pacific during the winter of 1983, corresponding to the 1983 El Nifio event. A leaching experiment revealed that major species of particulate uranium are labile organic complexes. Mass balance considerations suggest that particulate uranium in open ocean waters correlates with the presence of particulate organic matter (POM). A high peak of particulate uranium in 1983 may indicate that POM, i.e., primary productivity, increased in the western tropical Pacific during the El Niño event.

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