Spectroscopic measurements of the pH in NaCl brines

Frank J. Millero, Benjamin DiTrolio, Andres F. Suarez, Gabriele Lando

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24 Scopus citations


Spectrophotometric measurements of the pH in natural waters such as seawater have been shown to yield precise results. In this paper, the sulfonephthalein indicator m-cresol purple (mCP, H2I) has been used to determine the pH of NaCl brines. The indicator has been calibrated in NaCl solutions from 5 to 45 °C and ionic strengths from 0.03 to 5.5 m. The calibrations were made using TRIS buffers (0.03 m, TRIS/TRIS-HCl) with known dissociation constants pKTRIS in NaCl solutions [Foti C., Rigano C. and Sammartano S. (1999) Analysis of thermodynamic data for complex formation: protonation of THAM and fluoride ion at different temperatures and ionic strength. Ann. Chim. 89, 1-12]. The values of pH were determined frompH = pKm CP + log {(R - e1) / (e2 - Re3)}where R = 578A/434A, the ratios of the indicator absorbance maximum at 578 and 434 nm, e1 = 0.00691, e2 = 2.222 and e3 = 0.1331 [Clayton T. and Byrne R. H. (1993) Spectrophotometric seawater pH measurements: total hydrogen ion concentration scale calibration of m-cresol purple and at-sea results. Deep-Sea Res. 40, 2115-2129]. Measurements were also made in NaCl solutions with different levels of TRIS (0.01-0.11 m). At low levels of TRIS buffer (<0.03 m), the values of pKmCP increased significantly. This effect can lead to erroneous values of pKmCP at low ionic strengths in estuaries and lakes. The measured values of pKmCP in NaCl as a function of ionic strength (I/m) and temperature (T/K) were fitted to the equation (σ = 0.0072) pKm CP = - 29.095 + 2639.2 / T + 5.0417 ln T - 0.3307 I0.5 - 186.80 I0.5 / T - 0.28346 I + 296.44 I / T + 0.12841 I1.5 - 68.23 I1.5 / T These results should be useful in determining the pH of NaCl brines in natural waters from 0 to 50 °C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3109-3114
Number of pages6
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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