The atmospheric corrosion of carbon steel is an extensive topic that has been studied over the years by many researchers. However, until relatively recently, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the action of marine chlorides. Corrosion in coastal regions is a particularly relevant issue due the latter’s great importance to human society. About half of the world’s population lives in coastal regions and the industrialisation of developing countries tends to concentrate production plants close to the sea. Until the start of the 21st century, research on the basic mechanisms of rust formation in Cl−
-rich atmospheres was limited to just a small number of studies. However, in recent years, scientific understanding of marine atmospheric corrosion has advanced greatly, and in the authors’ opinion a sufficient body of knowledge has been built up in published scientific papers to warrant an up-to-date review of the current state-of-the-art and to assess what issues still need to be addressed. That is the purpose of the present review. After a preliminary section devoted to basic concepts on atmospheric corrosion, the marine atmosphere, and experimentation on marine atmospheric corrosion, the paper addresses key aspects such as the most significant corrosion products, the characteristics of the rust layers formed, and the mechanisms of steel corrosion in marine atmospheres. Special attention is then paid to important matters such as coastal-industrial atmospheres and long-term behaviour of carbon steel exposed to marine atmospheres. The work ends with a section dedicated to issues pending, noting a series of questions in relation with which greater research efforts would seem to be necessary.
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