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Provision or Poison? Biogeochemistry of sediments in a warming ocean

Project Description

The importance of sediment processes in driving biogeochemical cycles, from blue carbon storage, to nutrients (silica, iron) and pollutants (lead, arsenic), are becoming increasingly recognized, from local to global scale [1]. However, accurately measuring fluxes from marine sediments presents a significant challenge as classical approaches (incubations, pore water gradients) focus on small scale diffusive processes, whereas sediment fluxes also depend on large scale and heterogeneous abiotic processes (e.g. temperature, tides, currents) and macrofaunal activities such as sediment reworking (bioturbation) and burrow ventilation (bioirrigation).
The aim of this study is to employ a cutting-edge radioisotopic disequilibrium approach [2] to quantify nutrient and pollutant fluxes from marine sediments across a range of future environmental settings such as climate warming and ocean acidification. This will be achieved by quantifying benthic fluxes around the UK across varying sediment types, associated macrofaunal communities, and differing levels of anthropogenic influence [3]. A key focus will be the comparison of the factors determining micronutrient flux between temperate UK waters and the western Antarctic Peninsula, where changing circulation is bringing increasing heat to the bottom waters of the shelf.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibility and how to apply


[1] Homoky, W.B., et al. 2016. Quantifying trace element and isotope fluxes at the ocean–sediment boundary: a review, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences.
[2] Shi, X., et al. 2019. Large benthic fluxes of dissolved iron in China coastal seas revealed by 224Ra/228Th disequilibria. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 260, 49–61.
[3] Godbold et al. (2017) Vulnerability of macronutrients to the concurrent effects of enhanced temperature and atmospheric pCO2 in representative shelf sea sediment habitats. Biogeochemistry 135: 89-102.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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