Valve abundances of marine planktonic, marine benthic and freshwater diatoms in 780 sediment surface samples from the North and Equatorial Atlantic between 20 degrees S 75 degrees W and 70 degrees N 10 degrees E display patterns that do not correspond to published records of primary production in the photic zone. On the contrary, their abundance is more closely related to dissolution and dilution by terrigenous minerogenic and biogenic carbonate material. Highest abundances of marine planktonic diatoms occur in the northern North Atlantic south of Iceland and in the equatorial regions. The central North Atlantic and the central Caribbean, which feature lower primary production in the photic zone, contain few or no diatoms in surface sediments. African derived freshwater diatoms are concentrated in a lobe between 5 degrees S and 20 degrees N latitude decreasing in numbers from the African continent westward.
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