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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research Group: Marine Biogeochemistry

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The Marine Biogeochemistry Group is a large and active international multidisciplinary research team studying the biogeochemistry of marine systems, both in the open ocean and in shelf seas. Our research contributes at the highest level to understanding of the ocean's role in global carbon, nutrient and other chemical cycles, anthropogenic effects on ocean function, and the ocean's role as a sponge for fossil fuel carbon dioxide.

Marine Biogeochemistry scientists work closely with colleagues in the Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems group of the NERC Strategic Research Division. Together and with other collaborators worldwide, we conduct innovative research to address major societal issues, including the role of the oceans in the carbon cycle, geoengineering solutions to climate change and the environmental management of the oceans. The Marine Biogeochemistry group includes some 50 staff and PhD students from all around the world.

Our Specific research foci include:

  • Chemical, biological and physical controls on primary production in the surface ocean, including the effects of natural iron fertilization, mesoscale mixing and ocean acidification.
  • Plankton and microbial dynamics, and biogeochemical cycling of key elements in the ocean water column (C, Fe, N, P, Si).
  • Vertical export of materials into the ocean's interior and processes in the 'twilight zone'.
  • Long-term change in marine ecosystems in relation to climate.
  • Assessing man's impact on ocean ecosystems.
  • Modelling key processes for improved understanding and prediction of ocean biogeochemistry and productivity.

Our research is underpinned by world-class technology including novel in situ chemical and biological sensors, ocean observatories, towed undulating platforms, profiling mooring arrays, bioassay incubation facilities, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and free floating sediment traps (PELAGRA). The group works with industry, for instance in the use of 'Ships of Opportunity' for global oceanography (SNOMS). We lead and participate in many research cruises every year.


Professor Mark Moore

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Facilities linked to Marine Biogeochemistry include:

Research Vessels

We have two vessels based at NOCS that are available to staff and students of Ocean and Earth Science. R.V. Callista and R.V. Bill Conway.

Coral Reef Laboratory

The Coral Reef Laboratory propagates and studies more than 40 species of cnidarians in a multi-compartment aquarium system circulating more than 4200 litres of artificial seawater.

Scanning Electron Microscope Facility

This facility provides a range of services including, secondary electron and backscattered electron imaging, automated image acquisition, qualitative and quantitative elemental spot analysis and elemental mapping.

Stable Isotope Mass-spectrometry

The SIRMS laboratory is a research and teaching facility available for use by staff and students. Stable isotopes of various materials including carbonates, organic materials, water samples are measured.


The Thermo Scientific NEPTUNE Multi-Collector (MC) ICP-MS provides high precision measurement of isotopic ratios across a wide range of elements.

Carbonate Chemistry Facility

The NERC funded facility analyses seawater samples for carbonate variable, and has state-of-the-art instrumentation. We also undertake carbonate chemistry calculations following total alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon analysis, providing pCO2, pH and other carbonate chemistry variables.

Dissolved Organic Carbon and Total Dissolved Nitrogen Facility

This facility is used to analyse dissolves organic carbon and total dissolved nitrogen in seawater and freshwater samples. The NERC facility analyses seawater samples using state-of-the-art instrumentation (Shimadzu TOV V CPN-TN).


PhD Project Titles

Understanding the stoichiometric coupling of nutrients and carbon within the Southern Ocean
Mark Moore, Toby, Tyrrell, Adrian Martin (NOC)

Environment, ecology and evolution of plankton communities
Ben Ward, Tom Ezard, Tom Bibby

Could iron be the ultimate limiting nutrient for oceanic primary production?
Toby Tyrrell, Mark Moore, Maeve Lohan

Blue Biotechnology
Tom Bibby, Matthew Terry (Biol. Sciences, UoS), Ivo Tews (Biol. Sciences, UoS)

Greenhouse gas –nitrous oxide (N2O)– production by marine nitrifiers
Phyllis Lam, Julie Robidart (NOC), Paul Skipp (Biol. Sciences, UoS)

The impact of mid-ocean ridges on the marine iron cycle
Maeve Lohan, Doug Connelly (NOC), Alessandro Tagliabue (Univ. Liverpool)

Microbial controls on greenhouse gas capture via fluid-rock interactions
Phyllis Lam, Juerg Matter, Damon Teagle

Tracing iron cycling from the ice sheets to the polar oceans
Amber Annett, Maeve Lohan, Mike Meredith (BAS)

Turning waste to carbon capture as facilitated by microbes
Phyllis Lam, Juerg Matter, Rachael James

What determines the proportions of elements in marine plankton and ocean water?
Ben Ward, Mark Moore, Adrian Martin (NOC)

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