There are lists such as the one below detailing how much of different minerals seawater contains:


(For instance )

Would you expect this to be the same at all depths or should sea water at the greatest depths, several kilometers down, for some "mixing reason" contain more heavy elements than shallow water? Maybe there is a difference but miniscule?

To make the question more chemistry focused: Take a column of pure water, several kilometers deep in a controlled environment. Add some heavy compound in the form of a fine grained dust of, for example, gold.

Given enough time and assuming the water does not move around significally the amount of solved gold is expected to be the same at all depths, at least as long as the temperature is the same everywhere in the column?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Deeper water is often colder, so solubility likely decreases. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Are you specifically interested in gravity separation, by any chance? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 0:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is a topic rather for Earth Science SE site earthscience.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 6:41

1 Answer 1


There are huge differences in water composition (and temperature) where there are undersea feature such as hydrothermal vents. The heat and particulates can be "detected as far as tens to hundreds of kilometers away from the vent fields."

Also consider:

  • The solubility of substances in relationship to temperature (e.g., many solids are more soluble at elevated temperatures, while gases are less soluble)
  • The influence of precipitation, glacial melt and runoff from land and estuaries.

N.B. The biggest influence on "heavy elements", though, would likely be sources on land (e.g., coal-burning lofting mercury into clouds) and from hydrothermal processes.


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