Professor Richard G. Fairbanks

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Current Research

Planktonic Foraminifera Ecology & Chemistry

 

So much of our understanding of Cenozoic paleoceanography depends upon the chemistry and/or abundances of planktonic foraminifera species sampled from deep sea cores that we have maintained an active program on the chemistry and ecology of modern planktonic foraminifera. We are convinced that modern studies of the physical, biochemical and genetic factors that control the vertical distribution, vertical migration, skeleton formation processes, and flux of planktonic foraminifera out of the euphotic zone to the sea floor are essential for wise paleoceanographic interpretations. We began our planktonic foraminifera studies in collaboration with the late Alan Bé focused on geochemical analyses of cultured specimens of planktonic foraminifera through their life cycle. We then pursued extensive fieldwork in collaboration with Peter Wiebe and Sharon Smith on the principles controlling planktonic foraminifera species vertical distribution and skeletal chemistry using vertically spaced MOCNESS tows from around the world. These results led to a model predicting planktonic foraminifera distribution, chemistry and flux. We are in the process of testing this model using an array of Honjo sediment traps deployed in the Atlantic Ocean. Sus Honjo has been an inspiration for this research, starting with his mentorship as host investigator while Fairbanks was a visiting graduate student at WHOI. We are now in the process of analyzing the sediment trap samples and the information will be used to improve our foraminifera flux model. Our archived MOCNESS plankton tow data and ancillary hydrographic and skeletal chemistry data will be posted on this WEB site in June 2005. At that time, an interactive version of our planktonic foraminifera and carbon flux prediction model will be posted for general use. We have adapted the foraminifera model for interpreting the global alkenone and Mg/Ca paleotemperature data sets as well for predicting the flux of other microfossil groups.Planktonic Foraminifera Ecology and Chemistry . So much of our understanding of Cenozoic paleoceanography depends upon the chemistry and/or abundances of planktonic foraminifera species sampled from deep sea cores that we have maintained an active program on the chemistry and ecology of modern planktonic foraminifera. We are convinced that modern studies of the physical, biochemical and genetic factors that control the vertical distribution, vertical migration, skeleton formation processes, and flux of planktonic foraminifera out of the euphotic zone to the sea floor are essential for wise paleoceanographic interpretations. We began our planktonic foraminifera studies in collaboration with the late Alan Bé focused on geochemical analyses of cultured specimens of planktonic foraminifera through their life cycle. We then pursued extensive fieldwork in collaboration with Peter Wiebe and Sharon Smith on the principles controlling planktonic foraminifera species vertical distribution and skeletal chemistry using vertically spaced MOCNESS tows from around the world. These results led to a model predicting planktonic foraminifera distribution, chemistry and flux. We are in the process of testing this model using an array of Honjo sediment traps deployed in the Atlantic Ocean. Sus Honjo has been an inspiration for this research, starting with his mentorship as host investigator while Fairbanks was a visiting graduate student at WHOI. We are now in the process of analyzing the sediment trap samples and the information will be used to improve our foraminifera flux model. Our archived MOCNESS plankton tow data and ancillary hydrographic and skeletal chemistry data will be posted on this WEB site in June 2005. At that time, an interactive version of our planktonic foraminifera and carbon flux prediction model will be posted for general use. We have adapted the foraminifera model for interpreting the global alkenone and Mg/Ca paleotemperature data sets as well for predicting the flux of other microfossil groups.

Publications:

  • [PDF] Kohfeld, K.E., R. G. Fairbanks, S. L. Smith, and I.D. Walsh, 1996. Vertical distribution and stable isotope chemistry of Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (sinistral coiling): decoupling of abundance and geochemical signals in polar sediments. Paleoceanography, 11, 6, 679-699.
  • Ravelo, A.C., R. G. Fairbanks, S.G.H. Philander, 1990. Thermocline dynamics in the tropical Atlantic; model predictions compared to paleoceanographic reconstructions. (T.J. Crowley, spec. ed.) Paleoceanography, 5, 409-431.
  • [PDF] Fairbanks, R.G., M. Sverdlove, R. Free, P.H. Wiebe and A.W. Bé, 1982. Vertical distribution and isotopic fractionation of living planktonic foraminifera from the Panama Basin. Nature, 298 (5877), 841-844.
  • Williams, D.F., A.W. Bé and R.G. Fairbanks, 1981. Seasonal stable isotopic variations in living planktonic foraminifera from Bermuda plankton tows. Palaeogeog., Palaeoclimat., Palaeoecol., 33, 71-102.
  • [PDF] Fairbanks, R.G., P.H. Wiebe and A.W. Bé, 1980. Vertical distribution and isotopic composition of living planktonic foraminifera in the western North Atlantic. Science, 207, 61-63.
  • [PDF] Fairbanks, R.G. and P.H. Wiebe, 1980. Foraminifera and chlorophyll maximum; vertical distribution, seasonal succession and paleoceanographic significance. Science, 209, 1524-1526.
  • [PDF] Fairbanks, R.G. Williams, D.F., A.W. Bé and R.G. Fairbanks, 1979. Seasonal oxygen isotope variations in living planktonic foraminifera in the northwestern Sargasso Sea off Bermuda. Science, 206, 447-449.
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