ST. PETERSBURG, FL – GEOTRACES is an international program to map the ocean for trace metals and their isotopes, in order to understand their biogeochemistry, involving 35 countries. The US is a key part of this program, having carried out four section cruises to date in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, and USFCMS faculty Tim Conway and Kristen Buck have been integrally involved in a number of these endeavors.
This fall, US GEOTRACES will carry out an NSF-funded North Pacific Meridional Section (GP15), sailing from Seattle – Alaska – Hawaii – Tahiti, stopping at 39 different ‘stations’ to collect full water column profiles of both water and particles. This large multi-PI cruise will measure a whole suite of elements in the ocean from nutrients such as Si, Ba, N and C, pollutants such as Hg, Pb, tracers such as CFCs and He, and essential metals such as Al, Co, Cd, Cu, Fe, Ni, Mn and Zn. Tim Conway is funded by NSF to measure a number of these metals and their isotopes on the cruise.
CMS graduate student Brent Summers in Conway’s lab will sail on the full upcoming cruise, from September-November 2018, chosen to act as a ‘super-tech’, helping to filter around 25,000 liters of water along the section. Because of the incredibly low concentration of metals in the open ocean (e.g. Fe is present at ~0.000000001g in open Pacific surface waters), scientists on the cruise will have to work in ultra clean conditions, like in our new clean laboratory at CMS.