The project will investigate the measurement of oxygen flux across the sediment water interface using the eddy correlation technique, which is an in situ approach for continuous measurement. Obtaining such fluxes will increase the ability to measure accurately benthic oxygen fluxes in sediments. This project will further the development of the eddy correlation technique and compare these results with advection chambers and with the perfusion method, both of which are currently used, to validate the eddy correlation approach and show its broad applicability. A process-based mathematical model will also be developed and used, with the flux measurements and porewater data, to validate the technique and will also be used to interpret and synthesize the results. The scientific merit of this research is that oxygen fluxes are the main proxy for assessing carbon cycling rates in sediments and are used widely in carbon budget estimates. The project will therefore help improve such estimates by increasing the database on oxygen fluxes for permeable shelf sediments, and by providing an increased understanding of the controlling variables.
The project will develop an outreach program in conjunction with the Virginia Coast Reserve LTER, one of the locations of this project, which has an active outreach program to K-12 schools, with a strong impact on minority groups. The project will also involve graduate and undergraduate education.