We present data on elemental concentrations of plankton net tow samples from the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Qatar in the Arabian Gulf as part of a broader study of biogenic and lithogenic influences on particulate trace metal concentrations in the surface ocean. There are relatively few analyses of planktonic trace metals and their associated role in the biogeochemical system. We had the opportunity to investigate the composition of plankton in a region heavily affected by dust, a significant factor for phytoplankton growth. Our samples were collected from 2012 to 2015 using trace metal clean net tows with mesh sizes of 50 and 200 microns for measurements of phytoplankton and zooplankton, respectively. Samples were totally digested and analyzed by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). The biogenic portion was determined by subtracting the lithogenic portion from the total concentration. The lithogenic fraction was defined as the concentration of aluminum in the sample multiplied by a [Me]/Al ratio. Using average Qatari dust for these ratios generated a significant amount of overcorrection, so ratios were established using average continental crust (UCC). This method still caused some overcorrection for the lithogenic portion resulting in negative excess values for barium, molybdenum, and lead. These same elements showed the least consistency between measurements. For the other elements, a relative stoichiometry for plankton was determined as Fe > Cu ≈ Zn > As ≈ Cr ≈ Mn ≈ Ni ≈ V > Cd ≈ Co. We also found a significant near shore enrichment for 9 out of 13 elements analyzed, indicative of a possible influence of pollution. Acknowledgement This study was made possible by a grant from the Qatar National Research Fund under the National Priorities Research Program award number NPRP 6-1457-1-272. The abstract contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Qatar National Research Fund.


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  • Received: 07 December 2015
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