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Research Unit ›Ocean Floor as REACTOR‹

Reactive Ocean
The reactive ocean floor influences ocean chemistry and is vital for supporting marine life, modulating global climate on geological timescales, and supplying biological communities at and within the ocean floor with energy and nutrients.

The reactions that transform carbon and other elements at and within the ocean floor likely have a critical impact on Earth-system processes, but they are incompletely understood. 

The REACTOR team will generate a new level of understanding of geosphere-biosphere interactions in ocean-floor reactions and their global impact, and make essential contributions to the Cluster’s overarching objective of determining the budgets of carbon and other elements across the oceanfloor interface. We will elucidate and dissect key processes and their interplay with biological communities in a wide range of ocean-floor settings and habitats.

Our main objectives / expected achievements are:

  • To examine the relationships between plate tectonics and the chemical composition of the ocean we will quantify and budget chemical fluxes in a variety of marine geological settings.
  • To determine habitability within the ocean floor and quantify the role of the deep biosphere
    in element cycles we will reveal the chemical and physical factors that define the lower
    boundary of the biosphere below the ocean floor and identify its impact on element cycles.
  • To disclose the impact of gas seeps and hot vents on life at the ocean floor and in the deep
    ocean we will determine the relationships between geological processes, the chemical
    compositions of emitted fluids, and the resulting biological activity and diversity.