Rare earth element (REE) concentrations in the carbonate lattice of four species of coral have been analyzed and compared with the dissolved REE in ambient seawaters. The corals were from two areas of different salinity, marine (34-34.5) and bay (33-34). The measurement of REE in coral was carried out with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) after meticulous washing of coral samples, digestion with acetic acid and preconcentration of REE. The concentrations of REE in the two ambient seawaters were quite different, being ten-times higher in the bay area and enriched in light REE. However, the average distribution coefficients (D's) were almost identical in the two areas. Substantial distribution coefficient differences were observed among the four coral species and the magnitude of inter-species variation in D was also species-dependent. Theoretical calculations imply that pH variation could cause variations in D large enough to account for the small differences between the two areas.
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