Trace element biogeochemistry

Aboard the Thompson.In the Buck Lab at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, we explore the cycling of trace elements in marine and estuarine environments. Our work includes studies of solubility, redox speciation and element distribution in natural environments. 

Trace elements are often a limiting factor in biological production because of their extremely low concentrations and the so called bioactive trace elements such as iron, cadmium, cobalt, copper and zinc are a focus of our research. We also measure aluminum, titanium, lead, and other tracers of natural and anthropogenic processes which influence marine chemistry. Ultimately, we are most interested in the sources, sinks and chemical transformations that characterize the biogeochemical cycles of the trace elements.


Generally, trace elements in the marine environment are found at concentrations in the nanomolar range but can be higher in estuaries and coastal zones. Their low concentrations relative to the comparatively high concentrations of cations and anions that characterize seawater result in analytical challenges which we address through a variety of methods. Thus, our research encompasses aspects of oceanography, earth and environmental sciences, geochemistry and analytical and environmental chemistry. In our work, we use quadrupole ICP-MS and other cutting edge analytical tools to achieve our research goals.

Sunset in the Pacific


I am always interested to hear from potential students and postdocs.

If interested in learning more about opportunities within the Buck Lab, please email me ( a short statement of your research interests.


Current Projects:


US GEOTRACES Pacific Section: Collection and Analysis of Atmospheric Deposition

Our group participated in the 2013 US GEOTRACES cruise to the eastern subtropical Pacific collecting atmospheric aerosol samples and precipitation to explore the impact of atmospheric deposition on the chemistry of the upper ocean. The cruise track for this 55 day section from Ecuador to Tahiti is shown to the right. We used hihg-volume air samplers to collect aerosol particles onto filters for analysis back in our lab at SkIO. We found that South America is a sgnificant source of both lithogenic and anthropogenic aerosols although the magnitude of aerosol transport is low relative to other ocean basins and source regions. 



US GEOTRACES Arctic Section: Collection and Analysis of Atmospheric Deposition

The Buck Lab collected atmospheric samples as well as samples from melt ponds found on ice floes to better characterize the chemistry and flux of atmospheric deposition in the Artic.  


Research Area: 
Chemical Oceanography
Climate Change