Sediments in the Arabian Sea will be examined by an international scientific expedition led by a researcher from the University of Edinburgh to increase understanding of the natural processes of the ocean floor and establish its significance for global cycles and climate change. Robotic research platforms will be deployed on the sea floor to study deep-sea organisms and their impacts on sedimentary processes, without removing the creatures from their natural environment. Monsoons—winds that blow in opposite directions at different times of year— cause the Arabian Sea to be a site of huge productivity and create a mid-depth layer of intensely oxygen-depleted water. Production of plant life in the surface waters and subsequent transformations in underlying waters and sediments represent important terms in the global carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, which, in turn, affect climate. Fluxes of dissolved metals, nutrients and organic matter from oxygen-depleted sediments are also of potential global importance.
Although a number of scientific expeditions have visited the Arabian Sea during the past decade, the ocean floor has received little attention because of difficulties in accessing the seabed. The benthic (sedimentary) communities, which range from bacteria to surface-dwelling crabs and deeply burrowing worms, strongly influence the physical state of the sediments and a wide range of important geochemical processes because of the way they mix and irrigate the seafloor deposits. Expedition leader Dr Greg Cowie of the Geology and Geophysics Department said: “The Arabian Sea sediments form a ‘factory’ where nutrients, metals and organic matter undergo major transformations. This is especially true at depths of between 200 and 1000 metres where oxygen-depleted waters bathe the Arabian Sea’s margins. Because of the remote setting and consequent difficulty in studying organisms in their natural environment, very little information is available on the mechanisms and impacts of faunal contribution to seafloor processes. This remains a major gap in our understanding of how the sediment system functions.”
The scientific team will study conditions across the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) on the Indus margin of the Arabian Sea, which serves as a natural laboratory. “We will carry out studies of the faunal communities under contrasting oxygen levels at sites across the OMZ, alongside detailed assessments of sediment geochemistry,” said Greg Cowie.
Platforms, known as benthic landers, will be set up on the seafloor and used for incubation experiments in which tracers will be used to examine sediment processing by benthic creatures and its impact on nutrient, metal and organic matter cycling. The information obtained will help improve our understanding of the workings of the sea-bed and their connection with geochemical cycles and climate changes. The expedition will consist of four cruises on the RRS Charles Darwin in 2003.
Linda Menzies | AlphaGalileo
NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy