Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers explore the ocean floor with rare instrument

30.12.2003


Trapping carbon dioxide in an icy age


A fish on the ocean floor off California gazes at a sight no human has seen first-hand: a modified Raman spectrometer gathering data on a carbon dioxide sample. Jill Pasteris, Ph.D., Washington University professor of earth and planetary sciences, heads a Washington University group collaborating with researchers at the Monterey Bay Area Research Institute (MBARI) to determine the feasibility of storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide on the ocean floor. The Raman spectrometer is the first-ever deployed on the ocean floor.
Courtesy of Monterey Bay Area Research Institute



In collaboration with oceanographers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), a team of geologists at Washington University in St. Louis is using a rare instrument on the ocean floor just west of California. One of their earliest projects was to see if it’s possible to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it on the ocean floor. The research is supported by the Department of Energy.

The geologists, headed by Jill Pasteris, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, and their MBARI colleagues are the first to deploy a Raman spectrometer on the ocean floor. The instrument combines a portable focusing lens with a potent laser to examine minerals, gases and liquids - even seawater itself. Pasteris’ group and their MBARI colleagues are using Raman spectroscopy to see what carbon dioxide in either a pure liquid or a complex solid phase will do on the sea floor. They also are examining the feasibility of synthetically trapping carbon dioxide in solids called clathrate hydrates, ice-like solids that form a cage around gas molecules, such as methane, trapping them and storing them. Such solids occur naturally on the ocean floor. The hope is that someday carbon dioxide can be trapped in a similar way.


"It’s a remotely controlled laboratory on the ocean floor manipulated by a robot and controlled from the research ship above," explained Pasteris. "The Raman signals so far are telling us that we can track the carbon dioxide and tell the different types, gas or liquid, and the spectra also can distinguish clathrate hydrates.

"The ocean floor is still a mysterious place. You can’t get scientists directly on the floor, so you either send them down in miniature subs or operate remotely as the MBARI group does. Ultimately, we want to get more expertise on the mineralogy of the sea floor, and we believe the Raman spectrometer is the best thing going to give on-the-spot analysis and identification."

Pasteris explained her collaborative research at the Geological Society of America annual meeting held Nov. 2-5 in Seattle.

Pasteris and her colleagues John Freeman, Ph.D., and Brigitte Wopenka, Ph.D., Washington University research scientists, are collaborators with oceanographers and engineers at MBARI. In the past they have analyzed the kind of sulfur that unusual bacteria oxidize on the ocean floor for MBARI scientists, again using their specialty, Raman spectroscopy. In the carbon sequestration research, MBARI scientists have dismantled the Raman spectrometer system and placed its components in three pressure-resistant cylinders connected by fiber optic cables. A robotic arm controlled from the research ship manipulates the probe head containing the laser. The laser excites various effects in samples, including what is called the Raman effect. The same lens system used to focus the laser then captures backscattered radiation and routes it to the cylinder with the electronics instrument for analysis.

"The emergence of Global Positioning Systems and remotely operated vehicles such as MBARI employs make the use of our instrumentation in extreme environments more and more feasible," Pasteris said. "We expect to get valuable data on the growth of carbon dioxide clathrate hydrate, the formation of secondary solid and dissolved species, the formation of carbon dioxide-saturated boundary layers in ocean water, and the dissolution of sea-floor minerals, among other information, in future deployments."

She said that hydrothermal vents on the sea floor - a possible site for the origin of life on Earth -- and their attendant bacterial colonies are possible future candidates for DORISS, the deep-ocean Raman in-situ spectrometer system. MBARI scientists are studying ways of downsizing the Raman instrument package so that other instruments can piggyback together with it on the robotic vehicles that are sent to the sea floor.

Tony Fitzpatrick | WUSTL
Further information:
http://news-info.wustl.edu/tips/page/normal/553.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>