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University of Hawaii at Manoa Professor Published In Science Journal

July 10, 2009

Dr. Craig R. Smith, oceanography professor at the University of Hawai’i at MÄÂnoa, recently published a paper in Marine Ecology Progress Series titled, “Biogeochemistry of a deep-sea whale fall: sulfate, reduction, sulfide efflux and methanogenesis.”

The research by Smith and collaborators is the first detailed study of microbial processes at a deep-sea whale fall. The work evaluated the biogeochemical effects of a 30-ton whale carcass deployed at 1,675 mile depth for seven years on the California margin.

The study demonstrates that whale falls, which occur widely on the deep-sea floor, rapidly create chemosynthetic habitats in the surrounding sediment that can persist for greater than seven years. These habitats are very similar in intensity to the chemosynthetic habitats created by deep-sea cold seeps and hydrothermal vents.

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