[Coral-List] Post-doc opportunity in coral geochemistry at USGS

Mike Field mfield at usgs.gov
Mon Jul 24 16:04:58 EDT 2006

The US Geological Survey has established a Mendenhall Postdoctoral 
Research Fellowship for geochemical studies of corals. A complete 
description of the position is provided below. Students interested in 
advancing the science of detection of land-based pollution effects on 
reefs, and that will have completed their Ph.D work by March 15 2008, 
are strongly encouraged to apply. Guidelines for how to apply, as 
well as a complete listing of  USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research 
Fellowships beginning fall of 2007 can be viewed at:


Questions can be directed to the three advisors:

>Michael Field, (831) 427-4737, mfield at usgs.gov
>Gordon Tribble, (808) 587-2405, gtribble at usgs.gov
>Robert Rosenbauer, (650)329-4198, brosenbauer at usgs.gov


>Research Opportunity #21. Historical land use patterns recorded by 
>coral chemistry: Linkages
>between watershed change and ecosystem health
>Coral reefs are in decline globally due in large part to a deterioration of
>water quality in the coastal environment (e.g., Hughes et al, 2003). In
>response this crisis, Executive Order 13089 (1998) established the United
>States Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) to coordinate efforts to protect,
>restore, and sustain coral reef ecosystems. The Task Force identified
>land-based pollution as a major threat to reefs in Hawaii and other US
>islands. However, the linkage between sediment and nutrient enriched runoff
>and large-scale reduction in coral reef cover has yet to be definitively
>Some techniques have been developed in an attempt to make this important
>connection. For example, McCulloch et al. (2003) documented a ten-fold
>increase in the Ba/Ca ratios of corals from the Great Barrier Reef that
>coincided with the arrival of European settlement in Australia and the
>onset of widespread land-use change. In concert with trace element ratios,
>stable isotopes of nitrogen (d15N), carbon (d13C), and sulfur (d34S) in
>coral skeletons may also provide important information about impacts due to
>erosion, sediment source and transport, grazing, agriculture, mining and
>land clearing. For example, Marion et al. (2005) have shown that the d15N
>of organic matter preserved in the skeleton of scleractinian corals is an
>indicator of nutrient loading and water quality in the coastal ocean, thus
>this novel approach is also a valuable tool for gauging long-term watershed
>input to reefs. These and other potential isotope signatures and elemental
>ratios are critical for documenting timing and causes of US coral reef
>Environmental geochemistry research conducted under this opportunity will
>relate temporal and spatial coral health to anthropogenic and natural
>terrigenous input from local watersheds. A potential exists to positively
>correlate the timing of US reef degradation with human-induced pulses of
>sediment. To that end, we seek a research geochemist to investigate the use
>of trace elements, stable isotopes, or other markers in coral skeletons for
>identifying the extent and timing of terrigenous contributions to US
>Pacific Island coral reefs. The strategy will be to compare the
>geochemistry of corals before and after the onset of agriculture and
>urbanization in adjacent watersheds. This is an opportunity for scientific
>leadership in developing new, much needed markers in skeletal chemistry to
>identify the sources, timing, and relative magnitude of changes in US
>tropical watersheds.
>In support of the USCRTF goals to improve understanding of land-based
>pollution, the USGS has recently undertaken a Bureau-wide effort (Ridge-to
>Reef) focused on understanding watershed changes and impacts to adjacent
>reefs in Hawaii. A central theme in these studies is sedimentation on
>reefs-sources, history, processes, and effects; postdoctoral research under
>this opportunity will provide an essential contribution to the USGS
>multi-disciplinary research thrust.  This opportunity will involve active
>collaboration with USGS marine scientists, watershed hydrologists, and
>coral biologists.  Prime research sites are the USGS Ridge-to-Reef study
>areas on Molokai and Kauai where ongoing studies show a link between
>sediment and coral viability. They are excellent sites for developing and
>applying a new set of environmental tools and markers to evaluate the
>health of coral reefs.
>Extensive laboratory facilities for the determination of the elemental,
>isotopic, and mineralogical composition of geologic materials are available
>at the USGS. These  include: inductively coupled plasma optical emission
>and mass spectrometers, stable isotope and compound-specific isotope-ratio
>mass spectrometers, a scanning electron microscope and electron microprobe,
>x-ray diffraction and a sensitive high resolution ion microprobe, housed at
>nearby Stanford University. Other ancillary capabilities include a complete
>sediment laboratory and an organic geochemistry laboratory equipped with
>extraction systems, gas chromatographs, and mass spectrometers.
>Hughes, T. P., Baird, A. H., Bellwood, D. R., Card, M., Connolly, S. R.,
>  Folke, C., Grosberg, R., Hoegh- Guldberg, O., Jackson, J. B. C., Kleypas,
>  J., Lough, J. M., Marshall, P., Nystrom, M., Palumbi, S. R., Pandolfi, J.
>  M., Rosen, B., and Roughgarden, J. (2003) Climate Change, Human Impacts,
>  and the Resilience of Coral Reefs. Science, 301(5635), 929-933.
>Marion, G.S., R.B. Dunbar, D.A. Mucciarone, J. Kremer and J.S. Lansing
>  (2005) Coral skeletal d15N reveals isotopic tracers of an agricultural
>  revolution, Mar. Poll. Bull., 50, 931-944.
>McCulloch, M., S., F., Wyndham, T., Hendy, E., Lough, J. M., and Barnes, D.
>  (2003) Coral record of increased sediment flux to the inner Great Barrier
>  Reef since European settlement. Nature, 421, 727-730.
>Proposed Duty Station: Santa Cruz, CA
>Areas of Ph.D.: Geochemistry, oceanography, environmental 
>geochemistry, marine science, and related topics
>Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications:
>Research Chemist, Geochemist, Geologist, Environmental Scientist, or 
>Marine Scientist
>(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the
>occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending
>on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final
>classification of the position will be made by the Personnel specialist.)
>Research Advisor(s): Michael Field, (831) 427-4737, mfield at usgs.gov; Gordon
>Tribble, (808) 587-2405, gtribble at usgs.gov; Robert Rosenbauer, (650)
>329-4198, brosenbauer at usgs.gov
Personnel Office contact: Cathy Shahan, (650) 329-4109, cshahan at usgs.gov

Michael E. Field
US Geological Survey
Pacific Science Center
400 Natural Bridges Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 427-4737;   FAX: (831) 427-4748


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