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Marine sediment components: identification and dispersal assessed by diffuse reflectance spectrophotometry

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Analysis of deep-sea sediments presents a number of exceptional challenges. Generally, the amount of material available is small and has to be shared among investigators. Also, deep-sea sediment contains a diverse range of components from a variety of sources including lithogenous, biogenous and hydrogenous. Finally, large number of samples is frequently analysed making rapid analysis a necessity. Given these limitations, a technique that is rapid, non-destructive or uses a very little sample, and is capable of identifying a large number of sediment components with a single analysis would be ideal. Diffuse Reflectance Spectrophotometry (DRS) has the potential to meet many of these criteria. In this paper, we discuss the application of DRS to deep-sea sediments from a variety of marine settings. We examine the modern sediment distribution in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Argentine Basin and compare the distribution of modern with the last glacial maximum sediment in the Atlantic Ocean. DRS has also proven useful in times series studies. DRS is especially useful for producing time series from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) holes that require thousands of samples to produce a single time series. In this paper, time series from both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are examined.

Keywords: Argentine Basin, Atlantic Ocean, atmospheric dust, diffuse reflectance spectrophotometry, DRS, Gulf of Mexico, iron oxides, marine sediments, sediment dispersal, sediment distributions, ocean drilling programme, ODP, paleoclimatology, deep-sea sediments

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