Past Projects

Past Research Cruises

  • North Sea 1982
  • Galapogos Vents 1985-1989
  • Mediterrean Sea 1986
  • Great Lakes 1987
  • Vents 1989
    • Student thesis projects from this study:
    • Carol Chin
  • Feline 1990, 1992
  • Teflom 1991-1995
  • Cold Seeps 1994
  • IronEx 1993, 1995
  • Trace Metals various cruises

Feline 1990, 1992

Iron, required for photosynthesis, limits the growth of phytoplankton (microscopic plants) in certain areas of the ocean. Incubation Experiments, in which some samples were given iron and others were not, demonstrated that the Equatorial Pacific is one such area. The effect of sunlight on the chemistry of surface water iron was also studied. IronEx I & II expeditions later confirmed these findings in actual open ocean fertilization experiments.

  • Student thesis projects from this study:
    • Jocelyn Nowicki

Back to top

TEFLOM – Trace Element Flux on the Continental Margin

Using free vehicle benthic flux chambers (landers), sediment corers and Niskin bottles, Moss Landing and USC scientists study the exchange of metals, nutrients and oxygen between sediments and water along coastal California. Some of the largest fluxes occur in highly productive areas, such as Monterey Bay, where biological material sinks to the sea floor and is regenerated. Other large fluxes, more chemically controlled, occur in semi-isolated basins off Southern California where bottom water has been depleted of oxygen and metals become solubilized. Many of our graduate students have thesis projects as part of this study. Our MEQ projects are similar but focus on more impacted areas.

  • Student thesis projects from this study:
    • Russel Fairey
    • Eric Kingsley
    • Heidi Zamzow

Back to top

Cold Seeps 1994

Using a submersible analyzer (scanner), Moss Landing and NOAA scientists study the chemical and physical properties of hydrothermal vent plumes emanating from the Juan de Fuca vent system off the coast of Washington. These are warm buoyant plumes containing high levels of iron and manganese due to reactions between seawater and the earths crust at very high temperatures. Iron quickly precipitates out and returns to the surrounding sediments whereas manganese, which is slower to precipitate, is transported much further from the vent source. These and other elements support the existence of biological communities that originate from chemical energy rather than energy from sunlight. Similar communities have been discovered near “cold seeps” in Monterey Bay.

  • Student thesis projects from this study:
    • Laurie Ferioli

Back to top


IronEx I, 1993

Moss Landing scientists and others, representing 15 institutions around the world, participated in the first open ocean fertilization experiment. The experiment consisted of a single iron addition to a 100 square kilometer patch of water near the Galapagos Islands. The results prove that iron limits productivity in some areas of the worlds oceans. This theory was developed by the late Dr. John Martin. IronEx II was conducted to determine why the results of IronEx I were not as dramatic as expected.

  • Student thesis projects from this study:
    • Teresa Coley

Back to top


IronEx II, 1995

Sequential additions of solubilized iron to a patch of water in the Equatorial Pacific produced an enormous phytoplankton bloom. Grazing pressure by zooplankton was also monitored. Interestingly, zooplankton did not perform typical vertical migration behavior. Instead they remained with the patch/bloom to feed both day and night. The results unequivocally demonstrate that iron availability limits productivity in some areas of the worlds oceans.

Back to top

Trace Metals various cruises

This lab, formerly under the guidance of Dr. John Martin, is one of the few labs in the world that can accurately collect and measure the low levels of trace metals in the ocean. Trace element distributions have been measured all over the world. They have participated in large, long term studies such as VERTEX and JGOFS which examine the processes that determine how elements are cycled throughout the oceans. They have most recently played a large role in the IronEX studies. The trace metal group was most recently on a cruise in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica determining iron and and nutrient distributions and examining the feasibility of a Southern Ocean iron fertilization experiment.