Characterizing Mineral Dust from the Arabian Coast of the Red Sea

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Jishprakash Puthan Purakkal1, Georgiy L Stenchikov1 and Johann P Engelbrecht2, (1)King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, (2)Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV, United States
The Arabian Peninsula is one of the Earth’s major sources of atmospheric dust. Along with profound negative effects on human activity and natural processes in this region, dust is an important nutrient source for the oligothrophic northern Red Sea. From preliminary observations it is estimated that some 18-20 major dust storms per year deposit about 6 Mt of mineral dust into the Red Sea. To better understand the optical properties, health, and ecological impacts of dust, we study the mineralogical, chemical and morphological properties of surface soil samples collected at prevbiously identified potential dust sources along the Arabian coast of the Red Sea. Many of these dust sources lie within a narrow coastal region and because of their proximity to the Red Sea, are important contributors to the dust/nutrient balance, during both dusty and fair weather conditions. Bulk samples were collected from the top 10 mm of soils from three sites along the Arabian coast of the Red Sea. The soil samples were sieved to separate the < 38µm particle fractions for chemical and mineralogical analysis. X-ray diffractometry (XRD) was applied to measure the mineral content of the dust. The chemical composition of individual particles was analyzed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). From the XRD analysis of the sieved samples from An Masayat (23.3322 N, 38.9481 E), Buthna (23.2960 N, 38.9384 E) and Rabugh pipeline Road (23.292 N, 38.91 E), it was found that the dust was composed largely of hematite, goethite, calcite, dolomite, quartz, chlorite, muscovite, amphibole, epidote and plagioclase. Our results are being compared to, and show similarities to those of Engelbrecht et al. , collected at 15 Middle East sites. Both the mineralogical content and chemical composition of samples bear the signatures of the regional geology. Engelbrecht, J. P., McDonald, E. V., Gillies, J. A., Jayanty, R. K. M., Casuccio, G., and Gertler, A. W., 2009, Characterizing mineral dusts and other aerosols from the Middle East – Part 2: Grab samples and re-suspensions: Inhalation Toxicology, v. 21, p. 327-336.