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Microplastics contaminate the deepest part of the world’s ocean

X. Peng1,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China

M. Chen1,2,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China
2Institute of Marine Geology and Resources, Ocean College, Zhejiang University, Zhoushan 316021, China

S. Chen1,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China

S. Dasgupta1,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China

H. Xu1,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China

K. Ta1,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China

M. Du1,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China

J. Li1,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China

Z. Guo1,

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China


S. Bai1

1Deep Sea Science Division, Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, China

Affiliations  |  Corresponding Author  |  Cite as  |  Funding information

Peng, X., Chen, M., Chen, S., Dasgupta, S., Xu, H., Ta, K., Du, M., Li, J., Guo, Z., Bai, S. (2018) Microplastics contaminate the deepest part of the world’s ocean. Geochem. Persp. Let. 9, 1–5.

Funding for this study was provided by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB06020000), National key research and development plan of China (2016YFC0304900) and the National Key Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2015CB755905).

Geochemical Perspectives Letters v9  |  doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1829
Received 22 July 2018  |  Accepted 29 October 2018  |  Published 27 November 2018
Copyright © The Authors

Published by the European Association of Geochemistry
under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0




Figure 1 Sampling location map of Mariana Trench seawater (in red triangles) and sediments (in yellow circles). Please see Tables S-1 and S-2 for sampling details.
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Figure 2 Profile of microplastic abundances and compositions in water samples from Mariana Trench. Pie charts represent the microplastic compositions and numbers in the bracket are the microplastic abundances with units of pieces per litre. PVC-polyvinyl chloride, PA-polyamide, Ra-rayon, ABS-acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, PP-polypropylene, PE-polyethylene, PS-polystyrene, aPA-aromatic polyamide, PET-polyethylene terephthalate, Pe-polyester, PU-polyurethane. The X-axis corresponds to the crossline from point A (12 ºN, 142.5 ºE) to point B (9.8 ºN, 141.43 ºE) in Figure 1.
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Figure 3 Profile of microplastic abundances and compositions in sediment samples from Mariana Trench. Pie charts represent the microplastic compositions and numbers in the bracket are the microplastic abundances with units of pieces per litre. PVC-polyvinyl chloride, PA-polyamide, Ra-rayon, ABS-acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, PP-polypropylene, PE-polyethylene, PS-polystyrene, aPA-aromatic polyamide, PET-polyethylene terephthalate, Pe-polyester, PU-polyurethane. The X-axis corresponds to the crossline from point C (12 ºN, 141.9 ºE) to point D (10.5 ºN, 141.3 ºE) in Figure 1.
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Table 1 Abundance of microplastics in seawater and sediments in open oceans worldwide.
Sample typeDepth (m)p(pieces)/LStudy areaReferences
seawater2673-109082.06-13.51Mariana TrenchThis study
seawater4.53.20+0.60Strait of GeorgiaDesforges et al. (2014)

Desforges, J.P.W., Galbraith, M., Dangerfield, N., Ross, P.S. (2014) Widespread distribution of microplastics in subsurface seawater in the NE Pacific Ocean. Marine Pollution Bulletin 79, 94-99.

seawater14.14+2.46Yangtze estuaryZhao et al. (2014)

Zhao, S., Zhu, L., Wang, T., Li, D. (2014) Suspended microplastics in the surface water of the Yangtze Estuary System, China: first observations on occurrence, distribution. Marine Pollution Bulletin 86, 562-568.

seawater10.02 (p/m2)South Pacific subtropical gyreEriksen et al. (2013)

Eriksen, M., Maximenko, N., Thiel, M., Cummins, A., Lattin, G., Wilson, S., Rifman, S. (2013) Plastic pollution in the South Pacific subtropical gyre. Marine Pollution Bulletin 68, 71-76.

seawater4.50.28+0.18NE Pacific OceanDesforges et al. (2014)

Desforges, J.P.W., Galbraith, M., Dangerfield, N., Ross, P.S. (2014) Widespread distribution of microplastics in subsurface seawater in the NE Pacific Ocean. Marine Pollution Bulletin 79, 94-99.

seawater22270.07Rockall TroughCourtene-Jones et al. (2017)

Courtene-Jones, W., Quinn, B., Gary, S.F., Mogg, A.O., Narayanaswamy, B.E. (2017) Microplastic pollution identified in deep-sea water and ingested by benthic invertebrates in the Rockall Trough, North Atlantic Ocean. Environmental Pollution 231, 271-280.

seawater50-43690.02-0.38Arctic Central BasinKanhai et al. (2018)

Kanhai, L.D.K., Gårdfeldt, K., Lyashevska, O., Hassellöv, M., Thompson, R.C., O'Connor, I. (2018) Microplastics in sub-surface waters of the Arctic Central Basin. Marine Pollution Bulletin 130, 8-18.

sediment5108-10908200-2200 (0.27-6.20 p/g)Mariana TrenchThis study
sediment2783-557044-3463.71 (0.04-6.59 p/g)HAUSGARTEN observatory in the Arctic Bergmann et al. (2017)

Bergmann, M., Wirzberger, V., Krumpen, T., Lorenz, C., Primpke, S., Tekman, M.B., Gerdts, G. (2017) High Quantities of Microplastic in Arctic Deep-Sea Sediments from the HAUSGARTEN Observatory. Environmental Science & Technology 51, 11000-11010.

sediment900-100028-80SW Indian Ocean Woodall et al. (2014)

Woodall, L.C., Sanchez-Vidal, A., Canals, M., Paterson, G.L., Coppock, R., Sleight, V., Calafat, A., Rogers, D.A., Narayanaswamy, E.B., Thompson, R.C. (2014) The deep sea is a major sink for microplastic debris. Royal Society Open Science 1, doi: 10.1098/rsos.140317.

sediment1400-2200120-800NE AtlanticWoodall et al. (2014)

Woodall, L.C., Sanchez-Vidal, A., Canals, M., Paterson, G.L., Coppock, R., Sleight, V., Calafat, A., Rogers, D.A., Narayanaswamy, E.B., Thompson, R.C. (2014) The deep sea is a major sink for microplastic debris. Royal Society Open Science 1, doi: 10.1098/rsos.140317.

sediment300-1300200-700MediterraneanWoodall et al. (2014)

Woodall, L.C., Sanchez-Vidal, A., Canals, M., Paterson, G.L., Coppock, R., Sleight, V., Calafat, A., Rogers, D.A., Narayanaswamy, E.B., Thompson, R.C. (2014) The deep sea is a major sink for microplastic debris. Royal Society Open Science 1, doi: 10.1098/rsos.140317.

sediment2419-48810-40Polar front of the Southern OceanVan Cauwenberghe et al. (2013)

Van Cauwenberghe, L., Vanreusel, A., Mees, J., Janssen, C.R. (2013) Microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments. Environment Pollution 182, 495-499.

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