Putting CO2 back where we found it: Carbon sequestration in anoxic basins



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Project Description

Organic carbon presented in natural environments is produced by photosynthesis and experienced different extents of geologic transformations. Organic carbon plays a central role in the global carbon cycle, exchanging carbon among different carbon reservoirs across a wide range of timescales (years to millions of years). Specifically, the burial of biospheric organic carbon represents a long-term CO2 sink whereas the oxidation of rock-derived organic carbon provides a CO2 source. River systems provide a unique window to look into the organic carbon cycling. Acting as ‘landscape integrators’, rivers mobilize and transport sediment and carbon from biosphere, soils, and bedrocks. The solid-phased, particulate organic carbon carried by rivers represent a comprehensive integration of carbon sourced from different reservoirs with distinct ages and reactivities. This project will characterize the compositions and reactivities of particulate organic carbon carried by river systems, based on a compiled set of water and sediment samples collected from a range of river systems from the Mississippi to the Himalayan rivers. The research tasks include (1) processing samples to be ready for instrumental analysis, (2) measuring the elemental and isotopic compositions of carbon and other nutrient elements (e.g. nitrogen) in river sediment samples, (3) processing data from instrument measurements, and (4) developing empirical and mechanistic models to quantify the organic carbon fluxes transported by rivers. The outcomes will facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the organic carbon cycle, as well as the function of river systems in the global carbon cycle. 


Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate researchers will work as a team to explore the interdisciplinary literature related to all aspects of active organic matter sequestration. Some aspects of the project can be done remotely. Students may also conduct active geochemical research in lab to test the efficiency of organic matter storage under various chemical conditions.


Requirements and/or Application Instructions

At least 6 hrs/week (2 units) and a 2-quarter commitment. Contact me directly to discuss.