The mission of the International GEOTRACES Program (www.geotraces.org), of which the U.S. chemical oceanography research community is a founding member, is "to identify processes and quantify fluxes that control the distributions of key trace elements and isotopes in the ocean, and to establish the sensitivity of these distributions to changing environmental conditions" (GEOTRACES Science Plan, 2006). In the United States, ocean chemists are currently in the process of organizing a zonal transect in the eastern tropical South Pacific (ETSP) from Peru to Tahiti as the second cruise of the U.S.GEOTRACES Program. This Pacific section includes a large area characterized by high rates of primary production and particle export in the eastern boundary associated with the Peru Upwelling, a large oxygen minimum zone that is a major global sink for fixed nitrogen, and a large hydrothermal plume arising from the East Pacific Rise. This particular section was selected as a result of open planning workshops in 2007 and 2008, with a final recommendation made by the U.S.GEOTRACES Steering Committee in 2009. It is the first part of a two-stage plan that will include a meridional section of the Pacific from Tahiti to Alaska as a subsequent expedition.
This award provides funding for management of the U.S.GEOTRACES Pacific campaign to a team of scientists from the University of Southern California, Old Dominion University, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The three co-leaders will provide mission leadership, essential support services, and management structure for acquiring the trace elements and isotopes samples listed as core parameters in the International GEOTRACES Science Plan, plus hydrographic and nutrient data needed by participating investigators. With this support from NSF, the management team will (1) plan and coordinate the 52-day Pacific research cruise described above; (2) obtain representative samples for a wide variety of trace metals of interest using conventional CTD/rosette and GEOTRACES Sampling Systems; (3) acquire conventional JGOFS/WOCE-quality hydrographic data (CTD, transmissometer, fluorometer, oxygen sensor, etc) along with discrete samples for salinity, dissolved oxygen (to 1 uM detection limits), plant pigments, redox tracers such as ammonium and nitrite, and dissolved nutrients at micro- and nanomolar levels; (4) ensure that proper QA/QC protocols are followed and reported, as well as fulfilling all GEOTRACES Intercalibration protocols; (5) prepare and deliver all hydrographic-type data to the GEOTRACES Data Center (and US data centers); and (6) coordinate cruise communications between all participating investigators, including preparation of a hydrographic report/publication.
Broader Impacts: The project is part of an international collaborative program that has forged strong partnerships in the intercalibration and implementation phases that are unprecedented in chemical oceanography. The science product of these collective missions will enhance our ability to understand how to interpret the chemical composition of the ocean, and interpret how climate change will affect ocean chemistry. Partnerships include contributions to the infrastructure of developing nations with overlapping interests in the study area, in this case Peru. There is a strong educational component to the program, with many Ph.D. students carrying out thesis research within the program.