Particles afloat in the ocean are important components of marine element cycles. Most of this particulate matter is suspended in the sunlit surface layer and is mainly composed of microscopic living and dead organisms and fecal pellets. Aggregation of small, suspended particles into large, rapidly sinking aggregates can transport surface-​derived material to the deep ocean and the seafloor, contributing to the so-called biological pump. The comprehensive analysis of these sinking particles has increased our understanding of important biogeochemical ocean processes, such as the relationship between the rate of primary production and downward flux of particulate organic matter, the biological control of the removal of abiogenic particles from the surface ocean, and seasonal or inter­annual variations in downward particle fluxes. Sediment traps have been widely used since the late 1970s to capture the downward flux of particles for study (e.g., Staresinic et al., 1978; Knauer et al., 1979).

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