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Chpt. 3: Properties of Water and Seawater James W. Murray (9/30/04) Univ. Washington

I. The Nature of pure water

Seawater is composed mostly of water (H2O). In fact it is about 96.5 wt % water. Sediments are also mostly water. Most fine grained surface sediments have a porosity

( Φ = volume of pores to volume of solids) of greater than 90%. Almost every process we discuss will occur and be affected by water. Thus, water has been called the universal solvent.

Water has unique and unusual properties both in pure form and as a solvent. These properties influence chemical reactions.

Structure of the water molecule: The structure of H2O is shown in Fig 3-1. It consists of an O atom with 6 e- that have the electronic configuration of:

1 s2 2s2 2pz2 2py 2px - whichmergewithtwoHatomswith1e each

resulting in a neutral molecule with 8 e- which form four pairs of electron orbitals called sp3 hybrids. The most stable configuration of these four lobes is a tetrahedral arrangement, with two e- in each lobe. Two lobes are used for O-H bonds (shared electrons) and two lobes have free lone pairs of electrons Figure 3-1 Electronic Orbitals

(Fig 3-1). The water molecule lacks symmetry, the

charge is not evenly distributed (it is polar). Electrons are shared unequally between O (highly electronegative) and H (not so greedy).

The H-O-H tetrahedral angle is 105° which is less than the ideal tetrahedral angle of 109° (Fig 3-2). The reason this is so is because of e- repulsion by the lone pairs. As a result of this bent structure water has a separation of charge or a dipole moment. Thus H2O is a polar molecule.

Fig 3-2 Bent Structure Fig 3-3 Hydrogen Bonding

of the water molecule


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