Sediment Geochemistry

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A multicore sits on the deck of the Indonesian vessel, the Baruna Jaya VIII, awaiting deployment. The multicorer is allowed to settle into the seafloor in order to fill the tubes with undisturbed sediment.
(Photo, James Saenz, WHOI)

Ocean sediments can provide long, continuous, high-resolution records of ocean biology and chemistry, and “proxy” records of ocean physical properties (temperature and salinity) and circulation patterns. Reading these records is not always easy, though - the sea floor is not a passive recorder, but a vast, variable ecosystem, characterized by active physical and biological particle mixing, and a complex suite of linked biogeochemical reactions and transformations.  Sediment geochemistry research at WHOI includes studies of:

Sediment geochemistry research at WHOI include studies of:

•  Organic matter decomposition and burial

•  Calcium carbonate dissolution and preservation

•  Microbial interactions in benthic communities

•  The cycling of redox-sensitive trace metals

•  Authigenic mineral formation

•  Records of bottom water oxygen and carbon flux

•  Preservation/alteration of upper-ocean proxy records

•  Sedimentary organic geochemistry
Each of these processes influences chemical fluxes and distributions in the modern ocean, each varies in response to climate-linked changes in ocean circulation and biogeochemistry, and each leaves records in the sediment column.  

Joan Bernhard
Daniel McCorkle

Marco Coolen
William Martin
Bernhard Peuker-Ehrenbrink
Chris Reddy


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Last updated March 5, 2011
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