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sea water, major constituents

sea water, major constituents 99.9% of dissolved material in sea water can be accounted for by eleven constituents: Na, Mg, Ca, K, Sr, Cl, SO4, HCO3, Br, BO3, and F, whose relative proportions are almost constant in all oceans regardless of salinity. The pH of sea water is maintained at 8.0–8.4 by a buffering system. Because the water is alkaline, most of the Ca2+ and HCO3- form insoluble CaCO3. Aluminium and iron oxides coagulate to form colloids because of the high concentration of electrolytes, and sink to the sea bed, silica is taken up by organisms, and thus Cl, Na, SO4, Mg, and K, for which no removal mechanism exists, account for almost all the dissolved material, at concentrations much higher than those found in rocks.

Ion

Parts per thousand by weight

Percentage of dissolved material

chloride, Cl

18.980

55.05

sodium, Na+

10.556

30.61

sulphate, SO42−

2.649

7.68

magnesium, Mg2+

1.272

3.69

calcium, Ca2+

0.400

1.16

potassium, K+

0.380

1.10

bicarbonate, HCO3

0.140

0.41

bromide, Br

0.065

0.19

borate, H3BO3

0.026

0.07

strontium, Sr2+

0.008

0.03

fluoride, F

0.001

0.00

TOTAL

34.477

99.99


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