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Update from Christian Haller on the JOIDES Resolution

IODP JOIDES Resolution Expedition 356 Indonesian Throughflow August-October 2015, North West Australian Shelf





September 30, 2015 - On Land



Today we disembarked  in Darwin, NT. It is very hot. We've been to the crocodile zoo already down the road (petting and cuddling some python snakes and blue-tongue goanas etc....). This time the next crew came on board very quickly. The first techs entered. And the science crew will come tomorrow. We had a little crossover party at the bar next to the hotel where everybody is staying. They will have a 17 days transit to the Maledives.... which will limit their drill time significantly compared to ours. We had about 3-4 days of transit all together and no standby waiting at all. We also had 6km of core planned and recovered 4-5km. We can be very proud. In fact, Montserrat, who was Post-doc in the CMS paleo lab until 2 years ago will be planktic foraminifera paleontologist on the following expedition. I bought her old Toyota when she moved to Spain. Pity I did not meet her at the bar.

Anyway, after some Australian beers (they are much better than the watery US beers) I now had to to go bed so I can get up early tomorrow and drive into my 1-week camping trip at Kakadu National Park. Keep fingers crossed I won't end as croc snack or bitten by any other reptile or drive on  the wrong side of the road. Esp getting into the left lane at intersections might be critical.It's hot despite being winter/spring. I'll have to pack lots of water. But there will be spectacular hikes and waterfalls along and on top of the sandstone escarpment in Kakadu. I'll take lots of photos.



September 23, 2015 - Problems at site #6

We are in the middle of operations at the last site and wanted to log the deepest RCB hole (about 800 m). Then after logging it was planned to drill one extra APC/XBC hole till time runs out and we have to run to Darwin. So yesterday night they cleared the drillfloor and spider floor/moonpool floor because of the special logging tool with a nuclear source passing by.

We had our set of table tennis matches (the semi-finals) and then went to bed.

Of course it did not go so well with the nuclear source. This is the first time we apply this thing and promptly it got stuck on the way back up near 500 m. Now the drillers are slightly nervous because they don't want to lose that thing. Losing logging tools is expensive (six to eight figures) and especially lost nuclear sources also cause lots of paperwork. They started drilling over the whole with the logging string still in the center. Very complicated task. Special operations! Nevertheless, this will take quite some time.... up to 24h and possibly means that we cannot drill another APC hole before heading for Darwin. Meh.


September 19, 2015 - More from Christian Haller on the JOIDES Resoltion

"I will be back in St. Pete in the second week of October. The first week I'm going to spend at the Kakadu National Park camping and hiking in the desert and sandstone cliffs (300km southeast of Darwin). I'll drive a big loop and maybe also visit Litchfield Park which is said to have very pretty hiking and pools with waterfalls as well. They have many aggressive saltwater crocodiles. The saltwater crocodiles are said to be much worse than the almost tame alligators. Freshwater sharks are also in the rivers of course waiting at river crossings together with the crocodiles. I hope I'm going to have a blast. It's already a lot hotter now that we crossed the tropic of capricorn. The water is condensing on the windows of the ship.

I think we left the main gas fields and Barrow Island south of us. Some LNG tankers are coming by on the shipping routes, but no more rigs. The last site is going to be tight. We won't have much time for transit either. Only 2 days for wrapping up reports and cleaning the lab (and that will be the longest transit we ever had on this expedition). The chiefs and the staff scientist are scheduling every hour of operation very precisely. The next cruise starting from Darwin going to the Maldives will directly have 2 weeks of transit from the start. A luxury we never had. “


September 19, 2015 - Kite Kontest

Today was kite flying day. I did my best to get my little construction up in the air, but I think we all have to practice a little more. The engine exhausts near the helipad create some bad turbulences which is not good for starting kites. Well, I tried. In the end mine crashed and broke a strut. I will replace the broken stick tonight and try flying again tomorrow! Btw, we are coring at the last site near the Rowley Shoals atolls.


September 15, 2015 - Expedition coming to an end

We have two more weeks to go and we are in the middle of the work at the second but last site. That means things now have to be planned very precisely by how much time they cost.

First, the co-chief tries to sell everyone the contingency hole at the last site. I think there is an alternative for each site, but in this situation he thinks the alternative is actually better than the set one. The problem is that the alternative is much deeper and the current site for once yielded un-dolomitized microfossils for geochemists (and anyone else who needs them). So this morning started a big haggling between some people and the chief-scientists for extending the time coring here and possibly getting a splice.

The chief-scientist rather wants to find out about the one drowned Rowley Shoal atoll reef and subsidence that killed off that particular atoll (the other atolls are still alive). He does not plan to go much deeper at the current site beyond some shallower triple APC.

The issue has to be resolved within 24h and I am curious if they can come up with a compromise. A spreadsheet will be put together with all the possible APC, RCB and depth/ drill duration options.

It's getting quite tense.


August 30, 2015 - Rinse and repeat

Yesterday night we finished logging at the last site where we hunkered down for two weeks in order to drill four holes which will be the deepest ones of this expedition. We had a very short transfer of 6h while the hump day party was raging at the forward tween deck. This transit would have been even shorter if we didn't have had to keep some minimum distance to the oil rigs surrounding us. Waking up for my shift would have meant that we got started at the new site with cores every 15 minutes. But I did not hear the "Core On Deck" announcements on my room after getting up. The reason was that the Half Length APC bent and got stuck in the barrel directly on the first section. Again, like at the very first station we hit a superficial hard layer. The drill bit will be lost and the wire has to be cut. XCB will cut the hard ground, but yield a very poor recovery in the underlying soft muds. We'll have to switch back to APC as quickly as possible.  


August 21, 2015 - Arrival in warmer waters

After the Perth Basin, our present station is in the Carnarvon Basin, one of NW Australia's busiest gas fields. In fact it looks very crowded on the map, but FPSOs and drilling rigs are far away from us. Nevertheless, gigantic gas flares can be seen night and day and are good reference points for when the JR was turned into the wind again.

Now that we got into the core flow at this new site, we traded one inconvenience for another. The previous cores contained ample sponge spicules. And sooner or later everyone had them on their hands even if you were as careful as ever. I picked my micropaleontology samples in rubber gloves to keep those pesky needles at bay. In fact, the transparent spicules floated on top of the samples after sieving and settled highly concentrated on the sample surface. The rumor went around that at some point we even contaminated the bathroom... haha. 

Here at the new site spicules are less abundant, but we got very strong H2S outgassing. Techs are wearing little senors which warn you before you take a whif too deep of this smelly gas and become a headless chicken. Even if critical concentrations are mostly not reached outdoors, the stink now permeates the core laboratory and goes down the staircase all the way to the mess. Additional to the H2S we also got a pungent hydrocarbon smell in some cores. Gas pressure can get very high during recovery to the surface. The catwalk has to be shielded while the liner is pulled out of the pipe since pieces of sediment might become projectiles. Gaps in the sediment caused by the gas have to be closed again by the techs with a piston.


August 17, 2015 - Arrival in warmer waters

We drilled the second site with two holes and found a very homogenous and expanded Pleistocene stratigraphy (and by homogenous I mean sedimentologically quite boring).

Anyway, we were accompanied by breaching Humpback whales and curious Humpback calves circling the JR.

The last two days were our longest transit from the southern sites to the northern site area. We passed Shark Bay on the right and came across bioluminescent jellyfish and little brown/orange seasnakes. We just became stationary again in visibility distance to a big industrial drilling rig and a production rig with a very big flare (otherwise we wouldn't be able to see it). That means we will have competition..... But despite this new site is going to be our deepest one (we're set to drill two holes), we are not planning to get down into the hydrocarbon bearing strata. Too dangerous. Things are now being set up for the core flow routine in the labs and rigfloor. Countdown is ticking. We're using the last remaining hours and minutes for report writing and reviewing or snake watching. Given our previous experience we are curious how conducive the geology is to coreing it with the Full APC. With the Half APC in the last sites the paleo team drowned in Core Catcher samples which needed preparation... having had a core on deck every 20 minutes.


August 12, 2015 - We got a winner

One of the photos of me was among this week's photos that will be uploaded to Facebook. Notice my trusted Zeiss microscope with camera and the blue pocket-sized SEM next to me. In the background there's the rigwatch drilling monitor which can also be switched to rigfloor camera.... or in case of important sport event... to that.

The second picture shows one of the lucky Japanese geochemists who got a special ticket for a core sneak peek before the very first hole was spudded. The PAL team gets the core catchers, which can be processed immediately. In contrary, the sedimentologist team will have to wait 5 hours before they can saw open the cores because they want the sediment to warm up and equilibrate with the laboratory room temperature.


August 9, 2015 - Waiting on Weater to drill the K/Pg?

After Holes A and B were drilled a lot was learned about the local characteristics of dolomitized limestones and how they have to be drilled through. We do have the unfortunate back and forth between soft and hard layers here at our first site. The nanno paleontologists found out that we reached the Miocene target age much before the planned total depth of around 300m. Anyway, the co-chiefs applied for an extension to about 400m total depth since chances are good that the PETM and the K/Pg boundary could be drilled in those following meters. This is in so far interesting since the K/Pg boundary is NOWHERE in whole Australia present. A a high impact publication might be due if that older rock, which was NOT in the scientific prospectus might be hit. During the meeting Craig (UTIG) could confirm that IODP in Texas gave green light to drill deeper since safety concerns are rather non-existant. No methane was detected in the geochem. lab. Right now we are WOWing (waiting on weather) because some very high swell is coming in from Antarctica and creating waves 4-5 m high. That is no problem for the ship, but exceeds the capabilities of the heave compensator. At least until Monday morning we will have to hold out. Nevertheless, the waves didn't stop the Sunday barbecue on deck below the bridge. But you better hold tight to the table when eating your steak on 5 m waves. And also bring a coat, it's quite chilly and windy outside with only 15 degrees. Even the water is 21 degrees.

Many people might gain some kg here. Warm meals are served every 6h. After a first excitement I learned to tone it down from 3 hot meals to only one plus some yoghurt...haha It's good, waiting when you arrive, and very plentiful.


August 4, 2015 - Roots down!

It's going to get busy soon.

Thrusters have been lowered, the Philippinos started working around on the drillfloor, I got a live camera screen next to me to see when the cores are popping up and it's my call to run out and get the core catcher for the paleo people. In two hours, they announced, the first sediments will hit the deck, go into the prep lab and then land under my "Beer" microscope. The microscope units got funny names to keep things clear. Jeroen (Dutch) from Bremen, next to me, is working with "Skull", the nanno microscope in my back used by Jorentje (Dutch) is called"Strawberry", the off-shift girl from Indonesia works with "Grape" for her nannos.

The paleo people started handing out tickets to people who can have the very first look at sediments. We are very sought after, since the sedimentologists will have to wait at least 5 hours until they can have a look at their cores. The reason is that the sediment will first sit on racks in the lab to equilibrate with lab temperature, go through the whole core analyses, and then get split in half. The core catchers for micropaleo though don't require all these processes and can be preped directly and analyzed after.

We're fed round the clock . They cook almost round the clock and for multiple shifts since science and support crews are on different schedules.


For more information visit

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 20:08

Update from the WCOA Cruise

THE STRAIT OF GEORGIA, June 6, 2016 - USFCMS students Katie Douglas, Erin Cuyler, and Jonathan Sharp of Bob Byrne’s lab along with researcher Sherwood Liu are currently participating in the fifth West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise (WCOA). After sampling our final transect off the coast of British Columbia, we are now steaming southeast toward our destination of Seattle as we near the conclusion of the 2016 WCOA Cruise. We’re traveling through a portion of the beautiful “Inside Passage” between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, hitting a few more sampling stations along the way. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing a good deal of wildlife here in the passage, along with some absolutely spectacular vistas of the Canadian wilderness.

Following our one-day stop in San Francisco (that became a two-day stop due to a mechanical issue), we moved methodically up the coasts of northern California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia. This second leg of the cruise proceeded much like the first, with CTD casts along a number of lines extending from coastal to offshore waters. The seas became surprisingly tranquil after we endured some imposing swells toward the end of our first leg. Without the relentless lurching of the ship to hold us back, our team became a well-oiled machine—churning out measurements of pH and carbonate at an impressive clip.

As a result of those many measurements (over 3,500 in total!), we have formulated some preliminary impressions regarding the chemical state of the California Current System. We’ve seen the expected indicators of seasonal coastal upwelling: relatively acidic waters with low carbonate concentrations were detected at increasingly shallow depths as we approached the coast. Additionally, we’ve observed a few surprising “hotspots” where corrosive waters (particularly low in pH and calcium carbonate saturation state) seem to have upwelled into the upper reaches of the water column!

As Katie discussed previously, it’s up to the biologists aboard the Brown to assess exactly what these corrosive waters will mean for organisms in the region. We, on the other hand, will concern ourselves with determining the origin of the corrosive waters. Likely they result from a combination of highly-respired (low-pH) deepwater transported from below and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide input from above, but other unanticipated factors may play a role. We’ll continue to evaluate our chemical data to investigate these processes as we aim to quantify the magnitude of each factor.  Furthermore, we will be correlating our chemical data with physical oceanographic observations, such as current patterns and wind speeds, to more fully understand how water mass movements drive the chemistry we’ve observed.

We’ll also compare our pH and carbonate measurements with corresponding measurements of other CO2 system parameters. This is a typical procedure that is vital for any carbon chemistry cruise. Comparison between interrelated measurements serves as a validation mechanism and promotes consistency between the analyses of each group of ocean chemists.

Personally, the 2016 West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise has been an incredibly positive experience for me. Though it’s not easy to be away from friends and family for so long, I am thrilled that I’ve had the chance to participate in such a major oceanographic expedition. I’m sure that the knowledge I’ve gained from my peers, the expertise I’ve developed in carbon chemistry measurements, and the connections I’ve made with friends both new and old will be instrumental in my growth as a scientist.

If you’d like to know more, follow along with the 2016 WCOA Cruise blog.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA, May 23, 2016- CMS students Katie Douglas, Erin Cuyler, and Jonathan Sharp of Bob Byrne’s lab along with researcher Sherwood Liu are currently participating in the fifth West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise (WCOA)

 Golden Gate Bridge

Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge! (Photo credit: Katie Douglas)

After two weeks of sampling and measuring seawater off the west coast of Mexico and southern California and braving some rough seas, we headed into port on Saturday, May 21st, for a short stop in the City by the Bay.  Some of the scientists we have worked alongside are ending the cruise here, and others will be joining us for the second leg of the cruise as we steam north toward British Columbia. 


The NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown comes into port at the Exploratorium in San Francisco on Saturday, May 21st, 2016. (Photo credit: Mary Miller)


On Saturday, we docked at the Exploratorium in downtown San Francisco, and the museum held a special event for the public about ocean acidification (OA) and the research we have been doing aboard the ship.  Our chief scientists, Dr. Richard Feely and Dr. Simone Alin of NOAA-PMEL in Seattle, spoke about the changing chemistry of the oceans and the impacts these changes are having on coastal and marine ecosystems. 


I often get asked by friends and family why I chose to do my research in the north Pacific when I go to school in Florida.  The west coast is an especially critical area for OA research, as it is an oceanographic region where we observe acidification and subsequent ecosystem responses happening rapidly.  The water that upwells along the west coast is cold, rich in CO2, and has a low pH and a low concentration of carbonate ions.  Shell-building organisms such as oysters, corals, crabs, pteropods, scallops, and snails need carbonate to build their homes, but water with a low carbonate ion concentration poses a great risk to these organisms, as this water can cause shells to thin, weaken, and develop holes.  The challenge of corrosive seawater also affects top predators, as many of the organisms that live in carbonate shells are food to birds, larger fish, sea lions, whales – and us humans too! 


The biological implications of OA necessitate an interdisciplinary approach to our research, so in addition to the carbon chemists (like Erin, Jon, Sherwood, and me) who are making routine measurements of seawater throughout the cruise, we also have a group of biological oceanographers aboard.  These biologists are from other universities and government institutions in the US, Canada, and Mexico (hooray, international collaboration!), and their investigations complement the chemical story of OA.  One of our biology teams is collecting pteropods, the tiny “sea butterflies” that serve as food for some of the largest marine animals, and exposing them to levels of CO2 that we expect to see in the atmosphere and oceans over the next century.  They are then measuring the pteropods’ physiological responses, such as respiration, to learn how well pteropods can adapt to the changing ocean conditions that we anticipate from OA.  Other biologists are investigating bacterial growth and abundance in waters with high CO2 levels.  One team is researching how warming oceans and high CO2 levels contribute to the development of harmful algal blooms, large-scale growths of planktonic organisms that emit toxins that can harm fish, birds, and large marine animals.  From these investigations, we hope to learn more about how the ecosystems of the west coast are changing in response to OA.


Although they are tiny, pteropods like those seen here are a major source of food for marine predators. Their spiral shells are especially susceptible to damage from ocean acidification. (Photo credit: Melissa Ward)


Aboard the ship, we say, “Science never sleeps,” and it’s true.  Around-the-clock operations mean that someone is always sampling, running experiments, or measuring some chemical parameter. For the next two weeks as we steam north, Erin, Jon, Sherwood, and I will be continuing our measurements of pH and carbonate ion concentration, and these measurements will help contribute to our understanding of the dramatic changes in ocean chemistry and biology happening in the eastern Pacific.


Written by Katie Douglas


If you’d like to know more, check out the 2016 WCOA Cruise blog.



NORTHEASTERN PACIFIC, May 15, 2016 - USFCMS students Katie Douglas, Erin Cuyler, and Jonathan Sharp of Bob Byrne’s lab along with researcher Sherwood Liu are currently participating in the fifth West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise (WCOA)

The R/V Ronald H. Brown, where I presently sit, is floating in the northeastern Pacific somewhere around 32° N 120° W (west of the California-Mexico border from the coastal point of view). It’s three in the morning on a Sunday. And though that may represent a late weekend night for some, I’m already well into my midnight to noon daily shift.

Over the past 10 days, our four-scientist team has worked around the clock to gather (so far) almost 1,000 discrete samples of Pacific seawater from a variety of depths and locations offshore of Western Mexico and Southern California. We’ve collected these samples for immediate measurements of pH and carbonate ion concentration, work that is a major part of the 2016 West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise.

This year’s WCOA Cruise—operated by NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL)—is the fifth of its kind, involves 17 different institutions, and has been touted as the most integrated WCOA Cruise to date. This means that in addition to the chemical measurements you may typically associate with ocean acidification, many other factors are being assessed: pteropod abundance, bacterial diversity, physical oceanographic models, and harmful algal blooms to name a few. The cruise departed from San Diego on May 5th, and measurements will span from Baja California to British Columbia.

In our case, we are employing highly accurate manual techniques for analysis of pH and carbonate ion concentration of bottled samples. We’re also operating an underway system for carbonate chemistry measurements that automatically analyzes surface seawater flowing from an intake point on the ship. These measurements will provide important information to evaluate the present chemical state of the California Current System, as well as how it is changing over time (the 2016 WCOA cruise will occupy study areas assessed in previous WCOA cruises).

Day-to day life has been fantastic on the ship. We’re eating quite well, enjoying some wildlife sightings, and even playing ping pong in our downtime (there’s a table in the main lab right next to our workstation!). In six days time, we’ll be stopping for a day in San Francisco. There we’ll swap out some scientists for the second leg of the cruise and hold an outreach event at the Exploratorium.

From San Francisco, we’ll trek northward toward Seattle and Vancouver, collecting many more samples along the way. We’ll check in again soon enough; until then, let’s all hope for calm waters and stable measurements!

Written by Jonathan Sharp

If you’d like to know more, check out the 2016 WCOA Cruise WCOA.


Last modified on Wednesday, 08 June 2016 13:37

USF Alumni Roundtable


Title: USF Alumni Roundtable


Merrie Beth Neely, MS '96, PhD '08
Marine Habitat Habitat Resource Specialist II, Earth Resources Technology, Inc.


Beau Suthard, MS '05
Client Program Manager, APTIM

Bio: Beau graduated from Eckerd College in 1997 with a BS in Marine Science (Geology Track), and from USF CMS in 2005 with an MS in Geological Oceanography under Al Hine. After graduating, Beau immediately joined Coastal Planning and Engineering (now known as APTIM) as a Coastal Geologist. Beau is currently a Client Program Manager with APTIM, and is responsible for managing the St. Petersburg, Florida office. This office conducts all of APTIM’s offshore geophysical and geotechnical survey work. This work includes seafloor and sub-seafloor mapping in support of environmental and marine infrastructure projects, including identifying sand resources for shore protection projects and site assessment and clearance for marine infrastructure projects like pipeline routes and offshore wind farms.

Steve Walker, MS '84, P.G.
Principal Consultant, ENERCON Services, Inc.

Bio: Mr. Walker holds a B.A. in Geology from New England College and an M.S. in Marine Science (Geology) from the University of South Florida College Of Marine Science.  He began his career as an applied scientist in 1984 at the Southwest Florida Water Management District working as part of a team establishing an ambient ground water quality monitoring network covering most of west-central Florida.  In 1986, he became a consulting hydrogeologist and environmental consultant for a national environmental firm and in 1990, along with three colleagues, founded an environmental science and engineering firm (Terra Environmental Services, Inc.) located in Tampa, Florida.  Mr. Walker has provided consulting services to hundreds of clients throughout the United States for a wide-range of projects including development of ground water supplies for private companies and municipalities, science and engineering studies at contaminated sites including for some of our nation’s most complex Superfund sites, environmental construction and operations services to implement cleanups at some of those sites, investigations of marine, riverine and lacustrine sediment investigations, and authored hundreds of technical investigation plans and reports.  His work has included extensive interaction and negotiations with state and federal agencies and on some projects, collaboration with academic researchers to bring their knowledge gained from research to difficult-to-solve, real-world environmental problems.  He also has provided technical and regulatory support to private-sector clients and litigation support for parties involved in legal actions related to environmental and regulatory matters.  In 2015, Terra Environmental was acquired by ENERCON Services, Inc., a growing national firm engaged in providing environmental and engineering services  private- and public sector clients throughout the US, where he continues his consulting work.
Mr. Walker is also a volunteer patient advocate for people diagnosed with serious and terminal diseases, and has worked for approximately 17 years to improve patient access to emerging medical progress.  He lives in Saint Petersburg, FL and tries mightily to make it to happy hour on time every Friday.

Monica Wilson, MS ’07, PhD ‘13
Oil Spill Research Extension Specialist, Florida Sea Grant College Program, UF/IFAS Extension

Bio: Monica graduated from Eckerd College in 2003 with a BS in Marine Science (Geology) and Computer Science. She received her MS from USF’s College of Marine Science in 2007 and her Ph.D. in 2013 in Physical Oceanography. After graduate school, Monica joined Florida Sea Grant as a member of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative outreach team. Her role is to transfer information between GoMRI oil spill scientists and coastal stakeholders.  The oil spill science outreach program’s focus is on the two-way transfer of information between the people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf of Mexico or who are involved in the protection and management of Gulf of Mexico coastal and marine resources; and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative scientists, administrators and board of directors.


When: Nov. 9, 2017 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Howard Rutherford

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Last modified on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 17:59

USF Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - The physical ocean conditions determine where organisms can thrive or famish.  Monitoring the chemistry and movement of water west of Florida is critical in forecasting oil spill trajectories, red tides, or fishery productivity.  

USF Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System is a network of instruments watching over the West Florida Shelf which include offshore buoys. They link deep ocean processes to the estuaries by feeding data into West Florida Coastal Ocean Model.  See how the buoys are deployed off the RV Weatherbird II in the video below.

USF College of Marine Science Celebrates Clam Bayou Marine Education Center

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Among the many accomplishments the USF College of Marine Science will celebrate this week as it marks its 50th anniversary is the creation of its Clam Bayou Marine Education Center, where hundreds of children and adult learners convene each year to learn about the wonders beneath Florida’s waters.

Read the full article

Last modified on Saturday, 08 April 2017 12:13

USF Giving Tuesday 2015

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Thanksgiving, or the giving of thanks, is a great thing and the Ocean gives us multiple reasons to be thankful. Today, and in the days, months and years ahead, we give thanks to the Ocean:

  • For the air we breathe
  • For the food that sustains us
  • For stabilizing the climate
  • For forgiving us our human foibles

On December 1, 2015 we will celebrate #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. The University of South Florida College of Marine Science will proudly participate in #GivingTuesday by joining a vast network of organizations and individuals who have come together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. We invite you to join us and give thanks to the Ocean!

Please join us in support of #USFGivingTuesday by making a gift of $19.56 (or more) in honor of the year USF was founded. Click below to help provide USF College of Marine Science the opportunity to achieve our research and educational goals.

Click here to Make A Gift

#GivingTuesday 2015 Images

Last modified on Thursday, 03 December 2015 14:32

USF Glider Deployed to Track Fish and Red Tide

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - USF's COT and CMS staff deployed one of their Slocum gliders for a 30-day research mission in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. "Sam" is equipped with a myriad of technologies to collect data during its mission as it yo-yo's up and down through the water column. Measurements are geared toward understanding subsurface water variables such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and fluorescence.

This project adds acoustic technologies for tracking tagged fish, marine animals that make sound, and acoustical backscatter. The deployment is the result of collaborations with several groups at FWRI, NOAA, FIO, iTAGGCOOS and private industries.

For more information visit CMS Ocean Technology Group.


Last modified on Friday, 19 May 2017 17:12

USF Marine Scientists Take Major Role in International Conference on Keeping the Gulf of Mexico Healthy

TAMPA, FL - Faculty and graduate students from the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science will take a major role in the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference held in Tampa Feb. 1- 4 at the Marriott Tampa Waterside Hotel, 700 S. Florida Avenue.

The international conference aims to bring together hundreds of oil spill experts representing academia, state and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and industry who will share the latest oil spill and ecosystem scientific discoveries, innovations and policies. Many of the results from 2015’s summer research will be presented.

Read the full article here

Last modified on Friday, 29 January 2016 15:21

USF Researchers Awarded $5 Million Grant to continue study in BP Oil Spill

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - USF College of Marine Science researchers will continue studies on how the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has impacted the environment and how future environmental disasters might be better mitigated.

Read full USF article here

Last modified on Tuesday, 26 September 2017 17:44

USF Researchers Featured in Student Conservation Film

TAMPA, FL - The film Tampa Bay Water Story, created by Katy Hennig, a graduate of the Digital Journalism and Design program at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, has earned an Honorable Mention and selected to be screened at the Blue Ocean Film Festival, November 10-13, 2016. The International film festival is an annual water conservation summit, showcasing films from a variety of filmmakers around water sustainability and conservation. 

View the full article

Last modified on Monday, 07 November 2016 17:31

USF scientists find oil still present from 1979 Mexico spill similar to Deepwater Horizon

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - For 40 days, scientists aboard a Florida-based research vessel prowled the gulf waters, looking for signs of the past, hoping it would give them hints of the future.

Read full article here

USF Scientists Spend 40 Days At Sea Looking For Evidence Of Oil

TAMPA, FL - The University Beat radio report on the College of Marine Science’s latest work in the Gulf of Mexico will air on WUSF 89.7 FM on Tuesday, August 23 at 6:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m. and 5:44 p.m. It will also run on WSMR 89.1 and 103.9 FM Monday, August 29 a little after 10:25 p.m., following Florida Matters.

The radio report will be online Tuesday at and They are planning on running a similar story on WUSF TV’s half-hour University Beat program next month. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 August 2016 16:59

USF students featured in Oceanography Special issue on Graduate Education

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - The March 2016 special issue of Oceanography (Graduate Education) features a few of our graduates.  Kara Vadman is featured on the cover, and Michelle Guitard and Kara are featured Pages 1 and 2 of the Introduction. Congratulations Kara Vadman and Michelle Guitard.

Oceanography v. 29 Isuue 01

Special Issue on Graduate Education in the Ocean Sciences

USF's Steven Murawski and team to receive $1 Million Grant from National Academies' Gulf Research Program

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - A research team led by University of South Florida College of Marine Science professor Dr. Steven Murawski has been awarded a $1 million grant to explore how oil spills, such as the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) in 2010, impact the economic, ecological and social system aspects of fishing communities.

The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced Thursday a total of $2.1 million in grants.  Murawski’s team, which also includes Dr. Claire Paris, a bio-physical modeler from the University of Miami, and an environmental science and policy expert Dr. James Sanchirico from the University of California, will receive the grant funding over two years.

“We are deeply appreciative of the grant by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies to pursue this important research.  Our team represents expertise in biology, economics and oceanography and will provide information relevant to assess these real-world problems,” said Murawski.

The DWH spill released approximately two million barrels of oil into the water, resulting in significant impacts on coastal communities, especially in the western and northern Gulf, where many towns are co-dependent on both commercial fishing and the petroleum industries. Concern for the integrity and safety of the seafood supply during the DWH spill resulted in large-scale fishery closures, causing fishers to either travel long distances from ports to reach open grounds or re-locate to other ports adjacent to open fishing areas.

Using high-resolution, fishery-dependent datasets, Murawski’s multidisciplinary team will identify how individual communities were affected by the DWH spill, specifically those communities in coastal Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Alabama. Working with key fisheries stakeholders and local decision makers, the team plans to identify adaptive strategies that communities could use to mitigate the effects of future oil spills. This project has the potential to transform disaster planning and fisheries management responses to such disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

All three Gulf Research Program grants awarded Thursday support projects that will generate new insights, address critical questions, or lead to new approaches to interpreting data by bringing together concepts and methods from different disciplines. The grants also advance study design, tools, models and technologies for assessing human exposure to environmental contaminants, including acute or chronic exposures related to oil spills and other sudden and large-scale environmental disasters, and related impacts on individuals and populations.

“We’re pleased to support innovative scientific syntheses that can help us better understand the interdisciplinary challenges coastal communities face,” said Evonne Tang, GRP's director of external funding opportunities. “The new tools and products that the project teams develop would make existing data usable for stakeholders and decision makers.” The proposals were selected after an external peer-review process. These awards are part of a broad portfolio of GRP funding opportunities outlined at

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was established in 2013 as a result of the DWH oil spill. It seeks to improve understanding of the interconnecting human, environmental, and energy systems of the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf areas. The program funds studies, projects, and other activities using three broad approaches: research and development, education and training, and environmental monitoring.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 25 research university among public institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving over 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.

Last modified on Friday, 16 December 2016 14:31

USF-led Marine Science Research Group to Begin 40-Day Expedition Studying Gulf of Mexico Oil Spills

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Researchers from the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, along with colleagues representing institutions across the country and internationally, are set to embark on a 40-day research cruise through the Gulf Mexico to gather key data that will provide a more complete understanding of the destructive effects from two significant oil spills.

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Last modified on Monday, 01 August 2016 14:12

USFCMS Alumni: Inia Soto Ramos Combines Satellite Imagery and Models to Better Understand Gulf

Hattiesburg, Mississippi - Dr. Inia Soto Ramos grew up in mountainous central Puerto Rico looking forward to the summer holidays to go to the beach.

“I really liked science since I was a kid,” she recalled. “I would look around my house in the mountains for anything to investigate, and I would wait an entire year to get to go to the beach. I was fascinated by the ocean since I was very young.”

Soto Ramos’ interest led her to seek a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Puerto Rico. There she began learning about remote sensing using satellite imagery and geographic information systems (GIS). A six-month internship at Western Washington University through the Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Science Undergraduate Program (MIMSUP) in 2003 firmly set her on her path. There she credits Dr. Brian Bingham with not only introducing her to marine science, but also giving her confidence in her research and presentation skills.

“I was hooked after that,” she laughed. “No going back.”

Read the full article here

Last modified on Friday, 01 April 2016 13:34

USFCMS Dean Jackie Dixon publishes new paper on deep earth cycling of carbon and water

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - The origins of carbon dioxide and water lie within the deep earth.  In times long past, extensive volcanic outgassing produced our oceans and atmosphere. A new paper by the dean of the College of Marine Science sheds light on recycling of volatiles into the deep Earth by subduction and out of the deep Earth through eruption and degassing of seafloor volcanoes.  Her model improves upon the standard model of subduction, known as the “subduction factory”. 

Jacqueline E. Dixon, Ph.D., a geochemist by training, recently published an article in the AGU journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.  Her research explores the origins of water and carbon dioxide on earth using measurements of water and carbon dioxide concentrations and ratios of hydrogen and other stable isotopes. 

This recent paper provides a comprehensive review of and presents new data on stable isotopes in mid ocean ridge basaltic glasses.  Dr. Dixon and fellow researchers show that water in enriched oceanic basalts is mostly recycled seawater that has been added to the mantle through deep melting of subducted slab igneous crust and sediments.  The model proposed in the paper extends the subduction factory concept down through the transition zone of the mantle and recognizes the important role of carbon in melting of sediments and basaltic crust in the downgoing slab.  These melts play a role in the complex dehydration and rehydration processes that support recycling of volatiles into the deep mantle, eventually returning to the surface in the form of lavas erupted at mid-ocean ridges and ocean islands such as Hawaii.


View Publication

Light Stable Isotopic Compositions of Enriched Mantle Sources:  Resolving the Dehydration Paradox

Supporting Information for Light Stable Isotopic Compositions of Enriched Mantle Sources

Supporting Excel Data Files for Light Stable Isotope Paper (.zip)


By: Sean Beckwith


Last modified on Monday, 08 January 2018 19:02

USFCMS Sloan Students and Directors Attend the Institute

ATLANTA, GA - CMS Sloan students, scholars and directors attended the 24th Institute on Teaching and Mentoring in Atlanta October 2017.  The Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, which is sponsored by Compact for Faculty Diversity, is a four-day conference with the largest gathering of minority doctoral scholars in the country.  The Institute focuses on faculty and PhD student diversity. This year the two guest speakers were Judge Glenda A. Hatchett and Margot Lee Shetterly.

CMS Sloan students and directors met Margot Lee Shetterly the author of “Hidden Figures,” which reached number one in The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers list. The book was partly funded by the Sloan Foundation and was eventually made into a film. Sloan provided autographed books to Sloan students, scholars and directors at the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring.

Last modified on Friday, 01 December 2017 15:40

USGS Science Center Increases Support of USF Oceanography Camp for Girls

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Each summer the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center sponsors the University of South Florida (USF) Oceanography Camp for Girls, a three-week summer program developed in the 1990s to inspire and motivate young women entering high school to consider career opportunities in the sciences.

Read full article here

Variations of the Global Net Air-Sea Heat Flux During the “Hiatus” Period (2001–2010)

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Air-sea heat exchange directly links the ocean and the atmosphere and is an important factor for controlling the atmospheric and oceanic circulations. Knowing how the net air-sea heat flux varies on different spatial and temporal scales is critically important for detecting and understanding the consequences of climate change and climate variability on the ocean heat budget and the ocean circulations. In this study (Liang and Yu, 2016), an assessment is made of the mean and variability of the net air-sea heat flux from four products (ECCO, OAFlux/CERES, ERA-Interim and NCEP1 over the global ice-free oceans from January 2001 to December 2010. For the 10-year “hiatus” period, all products agree on an overall net heat gain over the global ice-free ocean, but the magnitude varies significantly.

The differences among products are particularly large in the Southern Ocean. Decadal trends of Qnet differ significantly between products. ECCO and OAFlux/CERES show almost no trend, whereas ERA-Interim suggests a downward trend and NCEP1 shows an upward trend. The downward trend in ERA-Interim started from 2006, driven by a peculiar pattern change in the tropical regions. ECCO, which used ERA-Interim as initial surface forcings and is constrained by ocean dynamics and ocean observations, corrected the pattern. Among the four products, ECCO and OAFlux/CERES show great similarities in the examined spatial and temporal patterns. Given that the two estimates were obtained using different approaches and based on largely independent observations, these similarities are encouraging and instructive. It is therefore more likely that the global net air-sea heat flux does not change much during the “hiatus” period.

View the full online publication

Last modified on Friday, 11 March 2016 13:56

Vertical Kinetic Energy, Turbulence and Mixing in the Ocean


Speakers/Affiliations: Andreas Thurnherr, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory/Columbia University

Seminar Title: Vertical Kinetic Energy, Turbulence and Mixing in the Ocean

When: Mar. 24, 2017 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Xinfeng Liang

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More Information - Dr. Thurnherr is an observational physical oceanographer. His research interests concern processes acting near topography (including hydrothermal circulation), horizontal and vertical dispersal, as well as the large-scale circulation, with emphasis on the return limb of the overturning circulation (mixing and upwelling). Additionally, he is interested in oceanographic instrumentation and methods, in particular those related to the measurement of currents, internal waves and turbulence with acoustic methods (especially ADCPs). For more information about him, please see


Virtual buoys made possible by satellites freely provide oceanographic data at the click of a mouse

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Constantly scanning the earth in large swaths, satellites remotely sense the oceans and continuously transmit their data, 0’s and 1’s representing infrared and visible electromagnetic radiation, the portions of the spectrum most relevant to life on earth.  Dr. Chuanmin Hu and his group, the Optical Oceanography Laboratory, specialize in using optics and remote sensing to study algal blooms and water quality. 

By taking optical measurements of the surface of coastal and inland waters and by examining samples of floating seaweed, Dr. Hu and fellow researchers look for improvements to algorithms that are used to interpret remotely sensed data.  Students in the lab group play an integral role in conducting field work and processing data. 

Through the Virtual Buoy System (VBS), a vast network of virtual stations that receive georeferenced satellite information, the lab group provides a wealth of physical and optical water parameters on their website, with updates performed weekly. 


Additionally, the Sargassum Watch System (SaWS) uses standard and custom algorithms to monitor and track Sargassum seaweed and other floating algae.  An Integrated Red-tide Information System (IRIS) has been established to monitor red tides in coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  These three projects and more, along with data and map links to Google Earth can be found on the Optical Oceanography Laboratory website.

Funding by NASA and NSF allows Dr. Hu’s lab to provide these products to agencies and the general public in order to make informed decisions, whether they be for resource management or for personal occupation and leisure.


Written By: Sean Beckwith

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 February 2018 18:38