Noble gases are widely used in studies of the basic properties and dynamics of natural systems including the ocean. This chapter describes some of the more extensive applications of noble gases (mainly helium isotopes) to studies of oceanographic problems. They include the modern oceanic circulation, paleo-oceanography, hydrothermal and cold brine systems in the deep ocean, and ocean/atmosphere gas exchange.

Originally, oceanic noble gas studies were focused on geochemical problems such as the question of the existence of excess helium in seawater derived from radioactive decay of the elements of the uranium and thorium series in ocean sediments (Suess and...

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