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Marta Torres Fellowship

Marta Torres
Professor Marta Torres

January 24, 2013

Marta Torres, Professor in Ocean Ecology and Biogeochemistry, has been named a Fellow to the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study, in Delmenhorst, Germany. The fellowship is for ten months, which she will take in segments over four years.

The Hanse-Wissenschaftskollg (HWK) is a non-profit foundation with the purpose of promoting excellent research. HWK invites scientists who are outstandingly qualified and gives them the opportunity of intensive work on one or more research projects of their choice as well as the opportunity for undisturbed reflection to advance publication projects. Focusing on energy research, marine and climate research, neurosciences and cognitive sciences, and social sciences, the HWK strengthens and interconnects nationally and internationally recognized research and excellence clusters including those of regional universities and research institutes.

During her stays at the Institute, Torres will work on the project, “Collaborative Studies on Fluid Migration through the Oceanic Lithosphere: Role of Flow at Plate Boundaries on Chemical and Biological Change.” She will also develop ideas for new research projects and future research cooperation with scientists at HWK and neighboring universities and institutions.

Marta Torres onboard the Joides Resolution near India
Marta Torres in the chemistry lab onboard the Joides Resolution studies a gas-hydrate bearing core recovered from the Andaman Sea, along the continental margin of India. Chemical analyses of the pore water squeezed out of this sample can be used to quantify the gas hydrate content of the sediment. A program of scientific ocean drilling/ coring, logging and analytical activities has been developed to assess the geologic occurrence, regional context and characteristic of gas hydrates deposits along the continental margins of India. (Photo courtesy Integrated Ocean Drilling Program)

Over the past two decades, Torres has concentrated her research along the Pacific Rim, where she has used mapping techniques, benthic instrumentation and chemical analysis of fluids and minerals to enhance our understanding of cold seepage at convergent and transform margins off the western U.S., Peru, and Chile. She has used chemical and isotopical characterization of pore fluids and associated products collected by scientific ocean drilling offshore Oregon, Costa Rica, Japan, India and Korea, to understand the sources, pathways and mechanisms of present and past fluid circulation and their impact on gas hydrate dynamics.

In her work at HWK, Torres will draw on this experience to support the geochemical component of future MARUM expeditions to the area of the Sandwich Islands to search the South Sandwich Plate for hydrothermal and cold seep. The proposed collaboration includes expedition planning, at-sea support and post cruise data analyses, data interpretation, and manuscript preparation.

Cold seeps and hot vents are very rare in Antarctica and locations associated with the Sandwich plate are of high interest for several reasons. The location would allow for studies of cold and hot venting in relative close proximity, allowing for geochemical comparisons and formulation of chemical inventories across an entire micro tectonic plate. This area is located in the biogenic opal belt of the Southern Ocean, which supplies a unique sediment package to the subduction margin. The tectonic regime is one of subduction erosion, where the sediments are eroded rather than accreted at the toe of the margin.

Marta Torres in the porewater geochem lab
Marta Torres, Lead Geochemist, in the porewater geochemistry laboratory of the Alaska North Slope Stratigraphic Test Well of the National Methane Hydrates R&D Program. (Photo courtesy Department of Energy)

She will also be involved in early stages of planning for a new field program to the region of San Clemente Transform Fault system in 2015 and will seek additional funding through the U.S. National Science Foundation.

While in Germany, Torres will hold a three-day workshop of fluid seepage. Back in the U.S., Torres will host a researcher from Alfred-Wegener Institute, Germany’s leading institute for polar and marine research.

Because Professor Torres will be in Germany for lengthy periods, the ECO2 consortium, with headquarters in Germany, has invited her to become a member of the Carbon Sequestration Board and participate in Sub-seabed CO2 storage: Impact on Marine Ecosystems, a collaborative large-scale integrating project.

Torres is a member of the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling and will also be working with that group while in Germany.

Reception at HWK
Reception at Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study. (Photo courtesy HWK)