Elements Magazine issue devoted to GEOTRACES research

The Elements Magazine December 2018 issue is devoted to GEOTRACES research!

2018 ELEM GEOTRACES picture

Marine Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements and Their Isotopes

Catherine Jeandel, Zanna Chase, and Vanessa Hatje - Guest Editors
Download the table of contents.


The magazine's overview of this issue reads:

The field of marine geochemistry is exploding these last two decades. During the 1980s and 1990s, the scientific community developed a geochemical toolbox to study key ocean processes, based on the concentration and isotopic composition of trace elements. The multiple processes at play in the ocean led the community to join forces and combine, at a global scale, the information provided by individual tracers to tackle big questions in oceanography. These were the motivations to create GEOTRACES, an international program of marine geochemistry. The key questions include the sources, internal processes and sinks of the elements; the services and functioning of marine ecosystems; the ocean’s role in climate variability; and the transport and fate of contaminants in the ocean. This issue will introduce the reader to the fascinating exploration of the big questions in ocean science using the chemistry of the infinitely small in seawater.

The volume contains the following articles:

Successful GEOTRACES PAGES Synthesis Workshop: Trace element and isotope proxies in paleoceanography

60 researchers from the PAGES and GEOTRACES communities participated to an intensive 2.5 day workshop from the 3rd to the 5th of December in Aix en Provence, France. The aim of the workshop was to conduct open discussions on the applicability and scientific gaps regarding the use of some proxies exploited to infer past circulation, surface productivity and particle fluxes. Indeed, thanks to the GEOTRACES programme, these tracers are more and more documented in the modern ocean, raising important caveats in the understanding of their present behavior and distributions. Fruitful confrontations and discussions conducted the 2 communities to identify common exciting perspectives and workshop products…more details soon! 


Joint GEOTRACES PAGES Workshop participants. Click here to download the image in high resolution.

Successful completion of US GEOTRACES Pacific Meridional Transect cruise

US Research Vessel Roger Revelle docked in Papeete, Tahiti at 0710, 24 November, completing the 67 day US GEOTRACES Pacific Meridional Transect, GP15 from Seattle, Washington to Tahiti, with a port stop in Hilo, Hawaii. The cruise transected from 56 deg N to 20 deg S along 152 deg W, and occupied a total of 34 vertical profile stations, for a total of over 55,000 samples taken for dissolved and particulate TEIs. Greg Cutter at Old Dominion University served as chief scientist, with Phoebe Lam (UC Santa Cruz) and Karen Casciotti (Stanford University) as co-chief scientists. A total of 51 scientist took part, with an exchange of 13 in Hilo. Overall, the cruise was a complete success and we look forward to data becoming available in the next year or so.

GP15 leg2 group2lFigure: The US GEOTRACES Pacific Meridional Transect cruise (RR1815, GP15) participants.
Click here to view the figure larger.


A tribute to Chris Daniels (1987-2018)

Data management is not a glamorous role. Even in a field like oceanography, which has generated large multi-disciplinary datasets and relied upon them for important scientific work for decades, the data managers tend to toil in the background and are rarely acknowledged. Their world is filled with dealing with different types of data spreadsheets, converting between file formats and the chasing down of units and methods, all while trying to meet the demands of their scientific community.

Today we would like to take the chance to acknowledge Chris Daniels, a data manager who made an important contribution to the GEOTRACES community and has sadly passed away in November 2018 at the age of 31.

All us are proud of the 2017 data product that GEOTRACES released, but those of us involved in the planning and execution process know that it was an enormous effort. A crucial part of this is how data sets from all over the world, concerning hundreds of parameters are assembled at the GEOTRACES Data Assembly Centre (hosted at the British Oceanographic Data Centre in Liverpool). Only with this synthesis effort is it possible to realise the ambition of a multi parameter, fully integrated dataset like the IDP.

When we moved from the IDP2014 to IDP2017 the number of different parameters and datasets increased dramatically, and our existing methods of work were feeling the strain. Chris joined the GEOTRACES effort in January 2017 and was tasked with thinking about how to approach this emerging challenge and the leadership this would require. Sadly, Chris became ill shortly afterwards and was unable to return to work to complete the task himself. However even in this short time, he brought into place a new approach, with a dedication and enthusiasm to deliver what the community was looking for.

Chris had interests outside of his role within GEOTRACES, which was only ever planned as a stepping stone along the road to a fulfilling academic career. During his PhD and postdoctoral work he was a valued member of large UK projects such as Ocean Acidification and Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry. He was especially passionate about coccolithophores and was considered to be a bright emerging young scientist with an exciting future ahead of him.

We express our sadness at his passing at such a young age and send our sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues. In particular, we take this opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are to meet unique and talented people like Chris in our daily work. Today, we work on towards new scientific challenges and discoveries in his memory.

On behalf of the GEOTRACES Programme, 
Alessandro Tagliabue (co-chair Data Management Committee, University of Liverpool)

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Chris, his family has suggested Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a charity with which Chris and his family are heavily involved: 

2018 Chris Daniels
Chris aboard the RRS James Clark Ross steaming out of South Georgia during the one of the UK Ocean Acidification cruises in 2013 (photo by Mark Moore).

Keith A. Hunter Eulogy

Keith Andrew Hunter (1951-2018) was a New Zealand ocean chemist who served most recently as a professor of chemistry and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Sciences, at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. He was educated at Auckland Grammar School, graduated from the University of Auckland with a first-class degree in chemistry in 1974, and completed his Ph.D. at the University of East Anglia in 1977 working with Peter Liss. He joined the University of Otago in 1979 and is a former president of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. He was awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Prize in 2011 and the Marsden Medal in 2014, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1997. Keith was a pioneer in trace element biogeochemical research in New Zealand. His research interests were wide-ranging, including dissolved trace metal speciation and cycling (with a major emphasis on Fe biogeochemistry), effects of ocean acidification on trace element speciation, estuarine behavior of particles and colloids, atmospheric deposition of trace elements and nutrients, and the chemistry of the sea-surface microlayer. His work will continue to have a significant influence on many areas of chemical oceanography, and he will be sorely missed by his many friends and scientific colleagues.

William M. Landing
Professor, Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University

Float your Boat project - Boats recovered three years after deployment!

The 2015 US Arctic GEOTRACES initiative participated in a novel outreach project coordinated with Dave Forcucci (US Coast Guard Marine Science Coordinator) to involve students and the public with an Arctic research cruise on the US Coast Guard ice-breaker Healy. GEOTRACES was a perfect match for the inaugural kick off of "Float your Boat" <>. Over one thousand 8-inch (20-cm) long cedar boats, were commissioned (funded by the National Science Foundation) from the Center for Wooden Boats ( in Seattle, WA and distributed to school groups, scout troops, and science open-house events around the country. Students personalized their boats with bright colors and after returning to Seattle the boats were branded with and packed into the hold of the Healy for the journey to the North Pole. During the GEOTRACES cruise, four groups of boats were deployed on ice floes between 87.5 N and 80 N on the 150 W meridian, each with a small satellite buoy (deployed by the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory to study ice movement). The iridium satellite-linked buoys provided an opportunistic chance for high resolution, real-time tracking of the boats for about a year and a half. After drifting with the Arctic ice, it was hoped that the boats would eventually be freed from its grasp and float to a distant shore to be discovered and reported. This project is described by our teacher-at-sea, Bill Schmoker, at and by Prof. Timothy Kenna, the scientitst who was in charge of deploying the boats: .                                  

 2018 Boat1 2018 Boat2  2018 Boat3 

Figure 1. Left and middle: The recovered boat, showing the effects of three years of weathering. Right: the boat in its original condition. Below: Mr. Bollie Thor with the boat, in Iceland.

2018 Boat4In October 2018, three years after deployment, one of these small wooden boats was found by a gentleman in Iceland, Bolli Thor. He wrote: “These are the coordinates 63.962285, -22.734055 where I found one of your little wooden boats, near small town called Sandgerði in Iceland where I live. I found it at my favorite spot, where I usually walk with my dog called Tyra.” The recovered, weathered, boat is shown in Figure 1. Remarkably, we identified the pre-deployment picture, the student and school (Upper Nyack Elementary School).

The recovery site is shown in Figure 2. The drift track data stopped in February, 2017. Two groups of boats ran aground in northern Canada, while two groups, deployed near the N. Pole, were entrained in the Trans Polar drift and traveled south, through Fram Strait, into the E. Greenland Current (Figures 3 and 4). A boat from these groups made it to Iceland. 

2018 Boat5
Figure 2. The location, Sandgerði in Iceland, where the boat was recovered.


2018 Boat6

Figure 3. The map shows drift tracks of our small boat deployments. Boxes 3,4,5,6 ran aground in northern Canada in February 2017. Boxes 1 and 2 were entrained in the Transpolar drift and went south. The boat discovered in Iceland was in that group.

2018 Boat7

Figure 4. The map shows historical drift tracks of data buoy clusters from the NPEO (North Pole Environmental Laboratory) main deployment camp near the North Pole each April 2000-2014 toward the North Atlantic for as long as they continued transmitting.  The Arctic Ocean's Transpolar Drift exits the Arctic Basin by its only deep-water channel through Fram Strait just east of Greenland. A buoy deployed in April near the Pole has a high probability of following that general route to reach the central Greenland Sea by the following mid-winter.

Distributed on behalf of Dave Kadko, chief scientist, and Bill Landing, co-chief, of the US GEOTRACES Arctic cruises.
You can also read the new item published on the Florida State University web site:

 Data Product (IDP2017)


 Data Assembly Centre (GDAC)


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