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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Chris German
  • (508) 289-2853
Award Date:09/08/2011
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 675,474
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 675,474
  • FY 2011=$675,474
Start Date:06/01/2012
End Date:05/31/2016
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Management and Implementation of US GEOTRACES Eastern Pacific Zonal Transect
Federal Award ID Number:1130870
DUNS ID:001766682
Parent DUNS ID:001766682
Program:Chemical Oceanography
Program Officer:
  • Henrietta Edmonds
  • (703) 292-7427

Awardee Location

County:Woods Hole
Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Street:360 Woods Hole Rd.
City:Woods Hole
County:Woods Hole
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

The mission of the International GEOTRACES Program (, of which the U.S. chemical oceanography research community is a founding member, is "to identify processes and quantify fluxes that control the distributions of key trace elements and isotopes in the ocean, and to establish the sensitivity of these distributions to changing environmental conditions" (GEOTRACES Science Plan, 2006). In the United States, ocean chemists are currently in the process of organizing a zonal transect in the eastern tropical South Pacific (ETSP) from Peru to Tahiti as the second cruise of the U.S.GEOTRACES Program. This Pacific section includes a large area characterized by high rates of primary production and particle export in the eastern boundary associated with the Peru Upwelling, a large oxygen minimum zone that is a major global sink for fixed nitrogen, and a large hydrothermal plume arising from the East Pacific Rise. This particular section was selected as a result of open planning workshops in 2007 and 2008, with a final recommendation made by the U.S.GEOTRACES Steering Committee in 2009. It is the first part of a two-stage plan that will include a meridional section of the Pacific from Tahiti to Alaska as a subsequent expedition. This award provides funding for management of the U.S.GEOTRACES Pacific campaign to a team of scientists from the University of Southern California, Old Dominion University, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The three co-leaders will provide mission leadership, essential support services, and management structure for acquiring the trace elements and isotopes samples listed as core parameters in the International GEOTRACES Science Plan, plus hydrographic and nutrient data needed by participating investigators. With this support from NSF, the management team will (1) plan and coordinate the 52-day Pacific research cruise described above; (2) obtain representative samples for a wide variety of trace metals of interest using conventional CTD/rosette and GEOTRACES Sampling Systems; (3) acquire conventional JGOFS/WOCE-quality hydrographic data (CTD, transmissometer, fluorometer, oxygen sensor, etc) along with discrete samples for salinity, dissolved oxygen (to 1 uM detection limits), plant pigments, redox tracers such as ammonium and nitrite, and dissolved nutrients at micro- and nanomolar levels; (4) ensure that proper QA/QC protocols are followed and reported, as well as fulfilling all GEOTRACES Intercalibration protocols; (5) prepare and deliver all hydrographic-type data to the GEOTRACES Data Center (and US data centers); and (6) coordinate cruise communications between all participating investigators, including preparation of a hydrographic report/publication. Broader Impacts: The project is part of an international collaborative program that has forged strong partnerships in the intercalibration and implementation phases that are unprecedented in chemical oceanography. The science product of these collective missions will enhance our ability to understand how to interpret the chemical composition of the ocean, and interpret how climate change will affect ocean chemistry. Partnerships include contributions to the infrastructure of developing nations with overlapping interests in the study area, in this case Peru. There is a strong educational component to the program, with many Ph.D. students carrying out thesis research within the program.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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J.A.Resing, P.N.Sedwick, C.R.German, W.J.Jenkins, J.W.Moffett, B.Sohst & A.Tagliabue "Basin-scale transport of hydrothermal dissolved metals across the South Pacific Ocean" Nature, v., 2015, p..

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Project Outcomes

This project organized a research cruise as part of the on-going US contribution to the international GEOTRACES program which seeks to understand some of the fundamental processes controlling the chemistry of Earth’s oceans.  The larger international program has been designed to unravel what controls the inputs and outputs of chemicals to the oceans – from the land, from the air and also from the seafloor: not just through sediments but also through volcanoes and hot-springs on the deep ocean floor.  A particular highlight of this project was that we were able to study, in detail, the site of the largest hot spring or “hydrothermal” inputs anywhere in the deep ocean.  This led to a particularly surprising result – from enrichments of the metals iron and manganese in a lens of water centered at about 2500m deep (approximately 1 and a half miles down) we were able to show that inputs of chemicals from hydrothermal vents along the East Pacific Rise volcanic chain off the coast of Chile and Peru were swept for more than 4000km (2500 miles) west across the Pacific Ocean, at least as far as Tahiti which was as far west as our cruise extended during nearly 2 months continuously at sea.  What has been particularly important from these results is the realization that if these chemical inputs can travel so far, they can also have an impact on the Earth system at a truly global scale.  In the southern Ocean, biological productivity is limited by a lack of a vital nutrient – iron.  From our demonstration that hydrothermal inputs of iron can travel such long distances through the ocean, we now calculate that this should include a supply of iron from deep in the Pacific up into the southern ocean’s sunlit surface waters.  As a result, we have been able to calculate that the iron from seafloor hydrothermal venting may underpin as much as 30% of all the biological productivity in the Southern Ocean, presently.  Of course, this is only the first exciting result arising from our research cruise.  We anticipate many more.  In total more than 60 separate scientists were involved in separate projects that were directly related to the cruise – both those involved in the sampling out at sea and those who have been busy analyzing samples back ashore.  The results from all their separate specialist measurements are beyond the scope of this report, but we are busy editing that work into a special volume of scientific research papers and we expect many more highlights still to come.  Our project also provided excellent training opportunities for more than a dozen young research scientists, both at graduate student level and beyond, helping to grow the next generation of US ocean scientists and leadership.  

Last Modified: 08/22/2016
Modified by: Chris German

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