Mineralogical and chemical characterization of suspended atmospheric particles over the east Mediterranean based on synoptic-scale circulation patterns

Boriana Kalderon-Asael, Yigal Erel*, Amir Sandler, Uri Dayan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Suspended atmospheric particles were collected in Israel in order to identify their nature and relationships with the major synoptic-scale circulation patterns. The particles were analyzed for their major and trace element concentrations and mineralogical composition. Samples were collected during three synoptic systems associated with desert dust storms: Red Sea trough, Sharav cyclone and cold depression, and during deep and shallow modes of Persian Gulf trough, which prevails in the summer months and is not associated with dust storms. All samples mostly contain particles smaller than 2 μm. The suspended desert dust is composed primarily of illite-smectite and calcite. Some indicative secondary minerals were found for each of the dust transporting synoptic systems (e.g., palygorskite for Red Sea trough). The bulk chemistry data support the mineralogical observations and reveal additional chemical signatures of each dust transporting system. For instance, Red Sea trough samples have significantly higher Ca/Al and Ca/Mg in the carbonate and Mg/Al in Al-silicate fraction than cold depression samples. Nevertheless, Sharav cyclone samples have intermediate values in spite of the fact that the source of the dust during these conditions is similar to cold depression (i.e., North Africa). Even though differences in the chemical and the mineralogical composition of desert dust do exist, this study reveals their overall chemical and mineralogical similarities. In contrast to the synoptic systems that carry desert dust, the inorganic fraction of the Persian Gulf trough samples contains significant amount (up to 50%) of non-mineral material that has a pronounced chemical signature in terms of major element concentrations (e.g., Al, Ca, Mg, Na, S) implying their anthropogenic nature, probably from countries around the Black Sea. This striking finding is indicative for atmospheric pollution in the Eastern Mediterranean region during the summer.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3963-3970
Number of pages8
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number25
StatePublished - Aug 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Mila Palchan and Vitaly Gutkin for providing invaluable assistance in understanding of the various ESEM applications. The assistance of Dror Stern, Reut Rabi, Rivka Nissan and Livia Katz of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with the sampling process and laboratory work is greatly appreciated. The authors thank Olga Yoffe, Irena Segal, Natalya Teplyakov and Michael Dvorachek of the Geological Survey of Israel for assisting with chemical and SEM analysis. This work was supported by the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection fund.


  • Mineralogy
  • Pollution
  • Suspended desert dust


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