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Benthic processes

Ocean chemistry of the greenhouse gases
Project Manager: Ed Peltzer
Lead Scientist: Peter Brewer
Lead Engineer: George Malby 

This project on the deep ocean geochemistry of the greenhouse gases will make innovative use of MBARI’s unique deep sea vehicle assets to design and carry out important experiments. Last year, we developed techniques to include the first deep sea Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)-hydrate experiment, and the ability to deploy and observe the behavior, biological impacts, and environmental consequences of deep sea carbon dioxide disposal. In the next three-year cycle we propose to continue these themes.

In 2002 we propose to carry out a series of essential experiments in local waters.

  1. We will extend work on carbon dioxide disposal/chemistry/biology (jointly with Jim Barry), with partial Department of Energy support. We carefully move beyond pure CO2 to study of an (impure) sample taken from the Weyburn project pipeline. We will also extend water column release studies to the dynamics and phase behavior of N2/carbon dioxide mixtures.
  2. We will very actively seek to take advantage of the newly developed Laser Raman spectrometer for obtaining biogeochemical data on a variety of targets, including CH4 and carbon dioxide hydrates. Technical development and hardware acquisition and testing will proceed under a separate project.
  3. We will extend the effort to deploy and test novel in situ acoustic, and IR-based, deep-ocean gas sensors with Schlumberger colleagues. We will develop a new single phase “hydrate maker” based upon chilling methane-saturated sea water, and use this to create novel targets for experiment.
  4. We will collaborate with external scientists on accurate measurement of in situ properties of hydrates. We will investigate the fate of mid-water carbon dioxide hydrate releases. And we will extend work with external colleagues to deploy laboratory-synthesized hydrates in the deep sea for fundamental measurements.