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CCPO Seminar by VIMS Scientist to Explore Trace Metal Cycling

Aaron Beck, a scientist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, will present a public seminar at Old Dominion University's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO) on Monday, Sept. 13, exploring trace metal cycling in freshwaters and coastal marine waters.

The seminar, titled "Phototrophic Biofilms and Diel Trace Metal Cycles in Aquatic Environments," will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Room 3200 of the Research Innovation Building 1 in University Village. This program is free, as is a reception with refreshments that begins at 3.

Concentrations of trace metals, which sometimes are toxic, can vary during a 24-hour period at a particular testing site in a particular body of water. For example, many contaminated streams undergo variations caused by daily changes in temperature, sunlight, and other factors.

Beck's research has considered the connection between trace metal cycling and the films of light-dependent microorganisms - such as algae - that can form on the bottom of shallow waters. The metabolic activity of these microorganisms can affect the amount of dissolved oxygen in the waters, as well as the pH. The oxygen and pH, in turn, can affect the availability of trace metals, he has found.

Seawater had been assumed to have a pH-buffering capacity that would thwart this mechanism. But recent findings by Beck and his colleagues show that a mechanism similar to that found in freshwater streams may be at work in coastal marine waters. He has concluded that trace metal cycling in many aquatic systems may therefore be more temporally-dynamic than currently thought, and diel biogeochemical processes should be considered more universally in mass balance models for dissolved trace metals.

This seminar kicks off the fall 2010 CCPO Seminar Series. More about the series can be found at http://www.ccpo.odu.edu/seminars_fall2010.html.

This article was posted on: September 9, 2010

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