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Microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments from the Great Australian Bight

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Barrett, J, Chase, Z ORCID: 0000-0001-5060-779X, Zhang, J, Banaszak Holl, MM, Willis, K, Williams, A, Hardesty, BD and Wilcox, C 2020 , 'Microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments from the Great Australian Bight' , Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 7, no. OCT , pp. 1-10 , doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.576170.

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Abstract

Interest in understanding the extent of plastic and specifically microplastic pollution has increased on a global scale. However, we still know relatively little about how much plastic pollution has found its way into the deeper areas of the world’s oceans. The extent of microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments remains poorly quantified, but this knowledge is imperative for predicting the distribution and potential impacts of global plastic pollution. To address this knowledge gap, we quantified microplastics in deep-sea sediments from the Great Australian Bight using an adapted density separation and dye fluorescence technique. We analyzed sediment cores from six locations (1–6 cores each, n = 16 total samples) ranging in depth from 1,655 to 3,062 m and offshore distances ranging from 288 to 356 km from the Australian coastline. Microplastic counts ranged from 0 to 13.6 fragments per g dry sediment (mean 1.26 ± 0.68; n = 51). We found substantially higher microplastic counts than recorded in other analyses of deep-sea sediments. Overall, the number of microplastic fragments in the sediment increased as surface plastic counts increased, and as the seafloor slope angle increased. However, microplastic counts were highly variable, with heterogeneity between sediment cores from the same location greater than the variation across sampling sites. Based on our empirical data, we conservatively estimate 14 million tonnes of microplastic reside on the ocean floor.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Barrett, J and Chase, Z and Zhang, J and Banaszak Holl, MM and Willis, K and Williams, A and Hardesty, BD and Wilcox, C
Keywords: deep-sea, fibre, fragment, microplastics, pollution, sediment
Journal or Publication Title: Frontiers in Marine Science
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN: 2296-7745
DOI / ID Number: 10.3389/fmars.2020.576170
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 Barrett, Chase, Zhang, Holl, Willis, Williams, Hardesty andWilcox. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).

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