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Lam with sediment cores

Clearing the Waters

WHOI chemist Phoebe Lam retrieves sediment core sample GGC-37, originally extracted by WHOI's Lloyd Keigwin in 1991, from the Seafloor Samples Laboratory. Sediment cores present geological information and are obtained when scientists drill long cylinders into the ocean’s floor. Samples from the North Pacific Ocean, like GGC-37, indicate an abrupt burst in biological productivity occurred 14,000 years ago. Some attributed this surge in phytoplankton growth to an increase in iron in the ocean. However, this core helped Lam disprove that hypothesis, instead crediting a "perfect storm" of biological factors for providing the optimum conditions for growth.

(Photo by Ken Kostel, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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