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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000
research providing the background and underpinning for environmental quality research and the application of this research to providing crucial knowledge and solutions to critical environmental quality issues in the marine environment.
National Academy of Sciences Marine Chemistry Panel, 1969-1971
At the turn of the decade, the Marine Chemistry Panel of the Committee of Oceanography of the National Academy of Sciences met and assessed progress and the challenges ahead. The panel membership consisted of a cross section of the intellectual and organizational leaders of marine chemistry in the United States and Canada. Their names and affiliations (at that time) are Norris Rakestraw, chairman, retired from Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Richard Bader and John Bunt, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami; James Carpenter, head of the Oceanography Section of the National Science Foundation; Dayton Carritt, director of the Institute for Man and His Environment, University of Massachusetts; Gordon Erdman, Phillips Petroleum Company Research Center; Robert Garrells and Edward Goldberg, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; John Hunt , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; David Menzel, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography; Timothy Parsons, Institute of Oceanography, University of British Columbia; and Ricardo M. Pytkowicz, Oregon State University.
Alfred C. Redfield wrote the dedication to this report at the request of the committee:
The members of the Committee responsible for this report dedicate it to their chairman, Norris W. Rakestraw, the dean of marine chemists in the United States (NAS, 1971a, p. iii).
The panel's statement in the introduction to the report poignantly outlined the role of chemistry and chemical research in the oceans and, from the perspective of almost three decades later, captured the general framework within which most of the research of the intervening years has been pursued.
There are several viewpoints from which the chemist can approach the ocean. He can consider the oceans as:
A dynamic mixing system, in which composition changes take place partly from internal processes and partly as a result of the circulation and mixing of water masses
A reservoir that is intermediate between the runoff of components from the continents and exchange reactions with the sediments
A biological system in which virtually all the biochemical changes associated with living organisms take place
A grand septic tank in which organic materials are decomposed mostly in the near-surface water or at the bottom
A vast chemical system, in which interactions. occur among an enormous number of components, both organic and inorganic, ranging in concentration through 12 orders of magnitude
An environment that is being invaded by man through his social, agricultural, and industrial activities
The key to interpreting the past history of the earth and as the custodian of its relics. (p. 5-6)
The panel went on to note:
It was said by the late Fritz Koczy of the University of Miami: Chemical reactions in the ocean... are largely determined by phenomena which occur at interfaces... seawater is bounded by two of the most extensive interfaces on earth—the one where it meets the air above, the other where it mingles with the sediment below. (p. 6)
Atmosphere-ocean interactions, in addition to the carbon dioxide exchange, and the chemistry of the surface ocean microlayer have been the subject of much innovative research since that time. Macintyre (1974) and Berg and Winchester (1978) chronicle the important contributions of Robert Duce, John Winchester, Joseph Prospero, William Barger, William Garrett, and others to this effort in the 1960s and early 1970s.
On the subject of sediment geochemistry, Professor Robert A. Berner of Yale University began his research in the 1960s and became one of the more important contributors to our understanding of marine sediment geochemistry (Siever et al., 1961; Berner, 1963, 1964) continuing to the present. Berner's book Early Diagenesis (Berner, 1980) captured much of his thinking on the subject and is one of the leading texts on this subject. Many of the researchers from the 1970s through the present, including this author, were strongly and positively influenced by Berner's work.
Many significant sediment geochemistry studies required comparisons of depth profiles of solid phase and pore water geochemistry. For studies of some important geochemical reactions, obtaining samples of pore water from deep ocean samples in a manner that avoided compromising sample integrity due to changes in temperature and pressure when bringing sediment cores up to the surface was a major challenge. The pioneering efforts of Fred Sayles and his coworkers (Sayles et al., 1976) are illustrative of how efforts to develop novel in situ sampling instrumentation by excellent scientists and careful analysts has led to significant advances in marine chemistry and geochemistry. Fred Sayles used this instrumentation, and subsequent improved versions, to make significant contributions to understanding fluxes of chemicals at the sediment-water interface (e.g., Sayles, 1979, 1981).