Rhenium in seawater: Confirmation of generally conservative behavior

A. D. Anbar, R. A. Creaser, D. A. Papanastassiou, G. J. Wasserburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


A depth profile of the concentration of Re was measured in the Pacific Ocean using a technique we have developed for the clean chemical separation and the precise measurement of Re by isotope dilution and negative thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-NTIMS). This technique permits Re concentrations to be determined from 200 mL of seawater with a typical precision of ±5‰. This is an improvement of at least a factor of 100 over the techniques used in previously published determinations of Re in seawater. We obtain a narrow range for Re from 7.20 ± 0.03 to 7.38 ± 0.03 ng/kg for depths between 45 m and 4700 m. This demonstrates that Re is relatively well mixed throughout the water column and confirms the theoretical prediction that the behavior of Re in the oceans is conservative. When examined in detail, both salinity and the concentration of Re increase by approximately 1.5% between 400 and 4700 m, a correlation consistent with conservative behavior. However, Re appears to be depleted relative to salinity by 1.0-1.5% at 100 m, and enriched by approximately 4% at the surface. These observations suggest a minor level of Re scavenging in near surface waters, and an input of Re to the ocean surface. This work demonstrates the utility of ID-NTIMS for geochemical investigations of certain trace elements that have not previously been amenable to detailed study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4099-4103
Number of pages5
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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