We live on a dusty planet—and the mineral matter that we commonly call “dust” is critical in many components of our Earth system, including several marine biogeochemical cycles and climate. The long-range atmospheric transport of dust has been known for centuries. The first mention of dust storms was in the ancient Chinese literature, referring to “dust rain,” “dust fog,” or “yellow fog,” which usually occurred in the spring. The earliest known record of “dust rain” appears in 1150 BCE in the historical book Zhu Shu Ji Nan or Chronicles Reported on Bamboo Slips. Recent interest in dust in the marine environment focuses on associated iron content, which serves as a critical nutrient for marine primary productivity and nitrogen fixation in many ocean regions (see Grand et al., 2014, in this issue).