An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Collaborative Research: Geotraces Pacific Section: Mercury Speciation Along A Zonal Section In The Eastern Tropical South Pacific


<p>Scientists from Wright State University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will participate in the 2013 GEOTRACES cruise to the Eastern Tropical South Pacific (ETSP). Seawater samples collected during this transect from Peru to Tahiti will be analyzed for total mercury (Hg), monomethylmercury (CH3Hg+), dimethylmercury ((CH3)2Hg), and elemental Hg (Hg0) to construct high-resolution vertical and horizontal sections. In addition to filtered seawater samples, the scientists will also analyze suspended particles for total Hg and CH3Hg+, as well as rain and aerosol samples for Hg species and dissolved and particulate thiols, such as cysteine and glutathione. The cruise track extends from the upwelling region off Peru, to an expansive oxygen minimum zone (OMZ), followed by the hydrothermal vent fields of the East Pacific Rise, and finally into the highly oligotrophic waters near Tahiti. These different oceanographic features will allow the researchers to determine their influence on the inputs and cycling of Hg in the ocean. Specifically, they plan to assess whether (1) continental margins off Peru are a significant source of Hg, CH3Hg+, and (CH3)2Hg; (2) the OMZ sustains the highest levels of methylated Hg in the ocean; (3) hydrothermal systems are important sources of total and methylated Hg; and (4) the large gradient in productivity along this track impact the vertical distribution of this element, its bioavailability, and its speciation. In terms of broader impacts, this research may have societal benefits in helping to understand the source of methylmercury in the ocean, which bioaccumulates in fish and poses a hazard to those who eat seafood. In an effort to improve science education, the proponent from Wright State University and his graduate student plan to involve a class of 7th graders at Bellbrook Middle School in the Dayton area in their research experiences at sea via classroom visits, a blog, and interacting with them during the cruise. One graduate student and one undergraduate student from Wright State University would be supported and trained as part of this project.</p>

Hammerschmidt, Chad R
Wright State University
Start date
End date
Project number