[Coral-List] Melissa Keys, Iron experiment

Gene Shinn eshinn at marine.usf.edu
Wed Oct 10 13:26:23 EDT 2007

Dear Melissa, You remembered the iron experiment quite well. It was 
called Iron-X. I had many conversations with Dick Barber, one of the 
leading members of the expedition. He in fact convinced me to go 
public with the African dust hypothesis based on iron to explain 
algal blooms and coral death. Iron is the most consistent element in 
the dust (4 to 6 percent).  That form of iron is not very soluble in 
sea water but the research led to discovery of microbes and other bad 
stuff carried by the dust. You may remember that increasing dust flux 
to the Caribbean began in the early 1970s, and peaked during the El 
Nino years of 1983 and 84. The next big peak was in 1998. If you were 
living in St. Croix at that time you really got a good dose and I'm 
sure you have seen plenty during the last two summers. It now seems 
to be well recognized that increased dust during the past two years 
played a big role in reducing the formation of Atlantic hurricanes.
      One of the discussions I have not forgotten about Iron-X was 
that it would not have happened with peer-review or bottom-up 
support. It happened because some key politicians got behind the 
idea. It was a top down experiment that, whether one likes it or not, 
proved conclusively that John Martin's original iron fertilization 
hypothesis was in fact correct. Many peer-review articles came out of 
the research.  Gene


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
Marine Science Center (room 204)
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158---------------------------------- 

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