Application of cross-flow filtration for determining the solubility of iron species in open ocean seawater

Christian Schlosser, Peter L. Croot

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 6:630-642 (2008) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2008.6.630

ABSTRACT: Measurements of soluble iron species (organic and inorganic) are important for understanding the transport of iron within the ocean and its bioavailability. Recent developments in ultrafiltration equipment and analytical detection techniques for low level Fe determination has turned the spotlight on obtaining data on soluble iron species. However there have, until now, been few studies that have characterized the performance of an ultrafiltration system with respect to well described soluble iron complexes. In the present work, we describe a methodological study characterizing the behavior of soluble and colloidal iron species in seawater by combining a crossflow ultrafiltration system (Vivaflow 50TM) with a radioisotope (55Fe). During this study, we were able to maintain excellent mass balances by including all components: not only the solution phases (retentate and permeate) but wall-adsorbed and filter-adsorbed iron, which were recovered by an acid-rinsing step. Wall and filter adsorption were unavoidable when solutions were saturated with respect to Fe'. However in undersaturated solutions, such as with an excess of desferrioxamine B, wall and filter adsorption were minimized, indicating that these effects should be slight for natural samples where iron-binding ligands are in excess. Our results have important implications for the use of ultrafiltration membranes for open ocean iron biogeochemical studies.