Innovative approach to measure the geochemistry of pore water in situ

Scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) have successfully tested a new approach to help improve knowledge of the deepest parts of the ocean.

The NOC’s Dr Anna Lichtschlag and Dr Allison Schaap are working in partnership with researchers from the centre of excellence for ultra-deep sea research: the Danish Center for Hadal Research (HADAL) to jointly improve understanding the processes governing organic carbon degradation in deep-sea trenches.

To understand the driving biogeochemical processes in hadal sediments is of global importance, as carbon recycling in sediments can have critical implications for oxygen and nutrient availability and ocean chemistry, impacting life both in the oceans and on land.

To achieve this goal, the team are developing a new approach which can be used to perform near-real time, automated analysis of the geochemistry of the pore waters of sediments. To first test the new approach in a local setting, the team recently undertook the trials of the adapted sensors in the estuary of the River Itchen (UK South coast).

Dr Anna Lichtschlag, the NOC’s Principal Investigator for the Hadal sensors project said: “Our successful sensor deployment has shown that this new approach can resolves spatial and temporal fluctuations in pore water chemistry, which are not readily analysed with any other method.”

This new technique could easily be expanded to measure a wide range of other biogeochemical parameters and to many other environments, enabling new understanding of the variable and complex biogeochemical process in sediments.

This work will be presented in a poster at the Challenger Society conference this week.

Read about the NOC presence at the Challenger Society conference