Areas of Study

Air-Sea Gas Exchange

Air-sea gas exchange focuses on the exchange of chemical species across the air-water interface.  Processes of interest include surface wave dynamics, mixed layer physics, oceanic evaporation and precipitation, atmosphere and ocean coupled boundary layers, as well as the physical properties of gases.  Methodological approaches range from small-scale studies, often involving novel sensing systems, to regional campaigns involving often more than one oceanographic research vessel, to global observations from space.  The field data and remote sensing observations form the basis for modeling studies that feed regional and global climate and ecosystem models.

Faculty: Scott Doney, Dave Glover, Bill Jenkins, David Nicholson, Z.Aleck Wang

Ocean (Bio)geochemical Fluxes and Processes

Ocean and global biogeochemical cycling is a major research focus for many faculty.  Individual studies span environments from the open-ocean and coastal systems, to rivers, estuaries and wetlands.  Methodological approaches encompass field, mesocosm, and laboratory studies, model assessments of marine biological productivity, and systematic, often long-term surveys of ocean processes along the U.S. east coast shelf and slope and estuarine settings.  This field has also benefited from the burgeoning ‘omics and bioinformatics revolutions to measure and interpret the genome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome of the microbial community that drives biogeochemical cycles.

Faculty:  Ed Boyle, Ken Buesseler, Matt Charette, Scott Doney, Stephanie Dutkiewicz, Mick Follows, Valier Galy, Dave Glover, Colleen Hansel, Bill Jenkins, Liz Kujawinski, Tracy Mincer, David Nicholson, Dan Repeta, Mak Saito, Benjamin Van Mooy, Scott Wankel, Aleck Wang, Meg Tivey

Deep Ocean Sedimentation & Diagenetic Processes

The deep ocean forms the long-term repository of particles from land and the surface ocean that survive the transport and remineralization through the water column.  The settling process can be observed by means of moored and free-floating “sediment traps”, or by in-situ sampling with large-volume pumps.  Deep-sea sediments also record inputs from hydrothermal vents, benthic organism, as well as extraterrestrial matter settling through the water column.  Reactive mineral surfaces scavenge metals dissolved in seawater and preserve records of the chemical and isotopic composition of seawater.  The accumulating sediments undergo diagenetic changes that alter their composition and that of interstitial fluids.

Faculty: Valier Galy, Colleen Hansel, Bill Martin, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Scott Wankel

Land-Ocean Interactions

The land-ocean boundary is a highly reactive, porous interface with bi-directional transport and exchange.  Processes include landward transport of sea-spray and sea-salt aerosols, delivery of land-derived aerosols to the air-sea interface, exchange of submarine groundwater – fresh and saline – along the coastlines, tidal processes that influence low-lying ecosystems in marshes, deltas and ocean islands, as well as unidirectional flow of freshwater with its dissolved and particulate load through rivers and their subsurface estuaries.  Sediments and biogenic material accumulating along this interface undergo complex changes, but preserve a valuable record of past environmental conditions.

Faculty:  Matt Charette, Valier Galy, Konrad Hughen, Liz Kujawinski, Bill Martin, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Dan Repeta, Amanda Spivak, Scott Wankel, Z. Aleck Wang

Coastal Processes

Coastal processes concern the interaction of the land with the coastal ocean and includes the exchange of coastal waters with groundwater, biogeochemical processing in the near-shore environment, coupling of coastal processes with the open ocean and anthropogenic effects on the near-shore environment.

Faculty: Amy Apprill, Ed Boyle, Matt Charette, Valier Galy, Colleen Hansel, Harry Hemond, Chris Reddy, Amanda Spivak, Aleck Wang, Scott Wankel

Ocean Circulation and Ventilation

This research area is concerned with the movement of water masses in the ocean at all scales and the way their physical and chemical properties are shaped by the interaction with the atmosphere.  The interdisciplinary nature of this field is reflected by strong interactions with the field of Physical Oceanography, remote sensing observations and ocean-wide observatories that are operated by national and international consortia and include autonomous vehicles designed and operated by, for example, members of the Department of Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering. 

Faculty: Scott Doney, Bill Jenkins, David Nicholson

Hydrothermal Processes

The interior of the Earth interacts with the oceans at divergent and convergent plate boundaries the are loci of mineral deposits, biologic communities that derive their energy from sources other than sunlight, and sources and sinks for many elements that are important to biogeochemical processes in the ocean.  Fluids, rocks and minerals preserve temporal records of hydrothermal and metamorphic processes that can be deciphered through chemical analyses and geochemical modeling.

Faculty: Ed Boyle,Bill Jenkins,Frieder Klein, Mark Kurz, Mak Saito, Jeff Seewald, Meg Tivey, Scott Wankel

Global Biogeochemical Cycles

The cycling and transformation of compounds, elements and their isotopes between biogeochemical reservoirs is an intensely interdisciplinary research area involving investigations at all temporal and spatial scales.  Though field observations form the backbone of many studies, integration of such observations with increasingly sophisticated computer models of biogeochemical cycles advances our understanding of past and future changes in those global cycles.

Faculty: Ed Boyle, Ken Buesseler, Dan Cziczo, Scott Doney, Stephanie Dutkiewicz, Mick Follows, Valier Galy, Harry Hemond, Konrad Hughen, David McGee, Shuhei Ono, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Dan Repeta, Dan Rothman, Benjamin Van Mooy, Z. Aleck Wang

Paleoclimatology/Paleochemistry/Paleo- & Geobiology

The main focus in this area is the co-evolutions of the ocean's role in earth's climate, chemistry and biology.  Joint Program faculty, staff, and students have diverse interests, including defining and addressing problems in these fields, modeling the general circulation and past state of the ocean, atmosphere and biosphere, using the genome record, fossil DNA, biomarkers and fossils in the sedimentary record to reconstruct past ocean conditions, ocean paleo-chemistry and –biology.

Faculty: Kristine Bergmann,Tanja Bosak, Sam Bowring, Ed Boyle, Greg Fournier,Valier Galy, Konrad Hughen, Mark Kurz, David McGee, Shuhei Ono, Mak Saito, Roger Summons

Anthropogenic Chemicals & Radioisotopes in the Ocean

This research area focuses on environmental factors that govern the processes that determine the sources, transformations and fates of natural and anthropogenic compounds (both organic and inorganic), elements and isotopes in natural and engineered systems.  Examples are the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan, and the fate of anthropogenic halogenated organic compounds released from industry to rivers and coastal environments. 

Faculty: Amy Apprill, Ed Boyle,Ken Buesseler, Matt Charette, Scott Doney, Phil Gschwend, Colleen Hansel, Harry Hemond, Konrad Hughen, Liz Kujawinski, Bill Martin, Chris Reddy, Amanda Spivak, Ben Van Mooy

Marine Natural Products

The enormous diversity of life in the ocean and competition for resources brings with it diverse chemical adaptations – often in form of “secondary metabolites” - to successfully defend against predation or overgrowth by competing species, effectively communicate with each other, or secure prey and nutrients.  Many of these naturally produced compounds may have implications for human health, linking marine research to applications in the biomedical field.

Faculty: Liz Kujawinski, Tracy Mincer, Chris Reddy, Dan Repeta, Mak Saito, Ben Van Mooy

Marine Microbial Biogeochemistry and Biochemistry

The cycling of many key elements and molecules is strongly influenced by microbial communities.  The complexity of these interactions in the modern oceans is being unraveled using the latest chemical, biochemical, and microbiological techniques, including mass spectrometry-based proteomics, lipidomics, and metabolics, DNA and RNA sequencing techniques, and cultivation and physiological studies.  Connecting biochemical reactions, including the enzymes and molecules involved, to global biogeochemical processes, and their susceptibility to natural and anthropogenic influences are areas of active research.

Faculty: Amy Apprill, Colleen Hansel, Elizabeth Kujawinski, Tracy Mincer, Mak Saito, Dan Repeta, Benjamin Van Mooy

Polar Research

Polar regions play a crucial role in ocean circulation and biogeochemical processes.  In summer months, polar waters support massive stocks of phytoplankton, which fuel a dynamic and complex food web that includes some of the ocean’s most treasured and most threatened sea creatures.  It is in these regions that the densest waters are produced, which then sink to great depths and fill the abyssal oceans. The interaction of the high latitudes with the subpolar regions is crucial for many climate issues, including meltwater generation from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the role of sea glaciers play in biogeochemical and physical processes.

Faculty: Matt Charette, Colleen Hansel, Benjamin Van Mooy, Mak Saito, Z. Aleck Wang