Biogeochemistry

Atmospheric transport

It is now apparent that atmospheric inputs of chemical constituents to the marine environment are quantitatively significant. Indeed, the distribution of constituents in seawater and marine biogeochemical processes are known to be strongly influenced by atmospheric inputs. Research activities within BEACh are focussed on determining the factors influencing atmospheric transport and deposition of trace elements (i.e. Al, Fe, Mn, Co, Ni, Cd, Pb, Zn Cu, V Mo, Na) and their subsequent impact on biogeochemical cycles in a variety of marine systems. Trace analytical methods and protocols have been both optimised and developed to facilitate the research aims; techniques of interest included ASV; ACSV; ICP-MS; ICP-AES.

Contact: Dr Simon Ussher and Dr Malcolm Nimmo


Transport, fate and impacts of contaminants in the aquatic environment

The sources of topical contaminants to the environment, with specific reference to phosphorus, metals and pharmaceuticals from sewage and agricultural sources are considered. Research activities include evaluation of the (i) partitioning between the particulate and dissolved phases (ii) speciation and (iii) bioavailability of the contaminants of interest.

This requires the development of sensitive state of the art analytical techniques such as LC-MS, voltammetry and extraction based – ICP-MS methods.

Support has been received from bodies such as the from the International Zinc Association, European Copper Institute and Astra Zeneca.

Contact: Dr Sean Comber  

Trace Metal Marine Biogeochemistry 

The distribution/transport of trace metals in the ocean  impacts on the health and function of open ocean ecosystems. The availability of trace metals (e.g. Fe, Zn, Co) may control the growth of phytoplankton and affect the efficiency of the biological C pump. This in turn can impact global C cycling and hence climate change. BEACh researchers are internationally recognised for their knowledge of the determination of trace metals dissolved in seawater and in marine particles. This comes from a legacy of developing sensitive techniques to make high quality measurements at subnanomolar concentrations. The group is well-established with over 20 years of research experience in this field; including field campaigns involving open ocean cruises and time series sites (BATS, Bermuda).

Contact: Drs Simon Ussher / Angie Milne 

Environmental impacts of metal mining and remediation

The extractive industries underpin every aspect of modern life/global economy, while their impacts on landscape, soil, water, atmosphere and ecosystems can be grave. Our research interests focus on mining of metals, metalloids and emerging elements of concern including some of the rare earths. Investigations range from the quantification, transport and fate of contamination in soils and water and their interaction with biota to remediation and mine water treatment. This requires a wide range of approaches, including environmental monitoring, laboratory experiments, greenhouse and field trials on legacy mine sites, as well as a range of analytical techniques (e.g. voltammetry, HPLC-ICP-MS) to study speciation.

Contact: Dr C Braungardt and Dr S Comber