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À : 'Stable Isotope Geochemistry'
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Epstein and Mayeda, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 4, 213,1953.
Variation of O18 content of waters from natural sources

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S. Epstein*<> and T. Mayeda

Institute for Nuclear Studies, The University of Chicago, USA

Received 27 February 1953.
Available online 7 April 2003.


A number of marine water and fresh water samples were examined for the relative O18/O16 ratio, and the variation of this ratio was determined to a precision of ± 0.1%. In the case of surface marine waters, for a range of salinity of 29.40%., the O16 content varies over a range of approximately 6%. The low O18/O16 ratios were obtained from surface marine waters contaminated with meltwater from the ice fields, while the marine waters of high salinity were richest in O18. The observed relation between O18 content and salinity of the oceanic waters can be explained by a process of multiple stage distillation which produces a continuous loss of fresh water to the ice regions from the surface waters of the warm oceans. The lower salinities of cold ocean currents, such as the Alaskan and Californian currents, are due primarily to mixing with meltwater from cold regions. The effect of glaciation upon the isotopic method of measuring paleotemperatures is discussed. The results for deep oceanic samples and for non-typical water samples are also discussed.

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