Procedures Subgroup Report

J. H. Sharp
College of Marine Studies
University of Delaware
Lewes, DE 19958

E. T. Peltzer
Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutiton
Woods Hole, MA 02543

Marine Chemistry (1993) 41: 37-49.

Received: 16 April 1993.
Accepted: 4 October 1993.


The current interest in dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the ocean has generated a central focus on the analysis of carbon and nitrogen. Procedures used in preparation of samples must also be carefully scrutinized to assure that representative samples are taken and maintained without alteration. Generally, we can do a fairly good job of taking and maintaining clean and unaltered samples for DOM analysis if proper attention is given to the process. However, there are a number of areas that require precautions, further care, and establishment of strict protocols. Insufficient attention to details can create small errors, especially critical as our analyses become more precise, but also can lead to gross over - or underestimates of DOM.

Perhaps the strongest message that this Subgroup wished to deliver is that sampling and analysis of DOM should no longer be given the 'poor stepsister' treatment. Traditionally, the subject of DOM in the ocean has not been assigned high priority. With the sudden new interest in DOM, analysis of this inappropriately ignored chemical category has been awarded new status. Unfortunately, sample collecting and processing often are still viewed as routine, requiring little special attention. If we wish to obtain accurate values for dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), sample preparation must involve precautions similar to those used for analyses of radiochemical tracers and trace metals. Thus, it is necessary to allocate adequate resources and space to collection and preparation of samples. Special precautions must include clean technique preparation and handling of water sampling bottles, ultraclean shipboard laboratory space, and dedicated storage spaces such as refrigerators and freezers. None of these special treatments are extreme and many are already being used by some DOM researchers; but they should be rigorously applied for all DOM research.

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