Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2004 projects
Benthic Processes

Ocean chemistry of the greenhouse gases II

Project Manager: Ed Peltzer
Lead Scientist: Peter Brewer

This project continues the work on the greenhouse gases with new ROV-based experiments on the geochemistry of methane and carbon dioxide in the deep ocean. New MBARI developments in laser Raman spectrometry will be used in these studies.

Methane geochemistry
We will complete work on gas samples collected in the Gulf of California (in 2003), obtaining gas chromatography data in-house and isotopic data in collaboration with W. Reeburgh (University of California, Irvine). A collaboration with E. D. Sloan (Colorado School of Mines) funded by NURP (National Underseas Research Program) will carry out joint field and laboratory Raman spectroscopic studies of methane hydrate formation, using MBARI ships and vehicles.

A summer cruise to Hydrate Ridge (Oregon) will extend the hydrate work successfully initiated there. The laser Raman spectrometer and MBARI's new PUP (precision underwater positioner) will be used to obtain sea floor data, permitting the first field examination of hydrates in the unaltered state. We will also perform sea floor Raman sensing of other constituents, such as carbonates and bacterial mats.

Ocean carbon dioxide studies 
We will continue an externally funded series of sequestration experiments with colleagues from Japan and Norway, examining the physical properties of a carbon dioxide plume from a small pool on the sea floor. We will also continue DoE supported experimental studies, jointly with Jim Barry and external investigators, to examine the effects of high carbon dioxide levels on deep-sea animals and microbes.

This work has attracted significant international attention, and it is very likely that this field will evolve to a more general concern over the science of a low pH ocean, which will inevitably occur as the century unfolds. These experiments may very well have far broader significance than sequestration studies alone.

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009