The development of our present chemical model of acid-base chemistry in seawater taken with the concomitant refinement of analytical techniques for alkalinity provides an interesting case study of "progress in marine chemistry". I have used this history to illustrate how developments in the parent discipline of chemistry have aided our understanding of marine chemistry. The concept of alkalinity has its roots in the late nineteenth century investigations of seawater by Tornøe and Dittmar. As the years went by, it assimilated the Arrhenius and Debye-Hückel revolutions in our understanding of the thermodynamics of electrolyte solutions, and thus of the molecular nature of seawater, and was refined into its modern form. Nevertheless, uncertainties persist to the present day. © 1992.
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