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Chemical Oceanography

Chemical oceanographers study the chemical composition of seawater and how it is affected by physical mixing processes and by interactions with the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the sediments and rocks which form the seafloor. The most basic courses include chemical oceanography and the distribution of chemical species in seawater. Students may also specialize in the organic chemistry of seawater and sediments, physical chemistry of seawater, geochemistry of natural and artificial radionuclides, photochemical reactions in seawater, air-sea chemical interactions, and the chemical cycling of elements important to biological systems such as carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen.

Atmospheric Chemistry. This is a subdiscipline of chemical oceanography. The basic course, chemistry of the marine atmosphere, is supplemented by specialized classes in aerosols, gases and meteorology. Students may specialize in atmospheric transport, atmospheric pollution, or the reactions taking place in the atmosphere.

Program Requirements

Master of Science: OCG 501, 521, 540, 561, 695; participation in a regular ocean research cruise; thesis. Candidates for M.S. degrees must satisfactorily complete 30 credits (24 course credits and 6 research credits).

Doctor of Philosophy: OCG 501, 521, 540, 561, 695; six credits of OCG 600 level courses (excluding problems and research courses and OCG 695); participation in a regular ocean research cruise; comprehensive examination; dissertation. A Ph.D. qualifying examination is required of all doctoral students. This requirement is satisfied by completing, with a grade of B or better, OCG 501, 521, 540 and 561. Ph.D. candidates must satisfactorily complete 72 credits (42 course credits and 30 research credits).

In consultation with the individual's program committee, the student elects additional courses from those in the course list and from offerings of related departments, such as Ocean Engineering, and in other colleges of the University. Electives serve to strengthen the student's grasp of oceanography and of the sciences basic to oceanography, and are a preparation for individual research. Deficiencies in basic undergraduate science courses must be made up without graduate credit.

There is no general requirement for proficiency in foreign language, but the individual student's major professor may require the demonstration of ability in one or more foreign languages.


Brian Heikes, atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric oxidants, heterogeneous processes
Katherine A. Kelley, igneous petrology and high temperature geochemistry
Rainer Lohmann, organic geochemistry of organic pollutants and black carbon - atmospheric and marine fluxes
Brice Loose, geochemistry of the cryosphere, air-sea interactions, climate change adaptation
John T. Merrill, atmospheric transport, atmospheric waves
S. Bradley Moran, trace element and radionuclide geochemistry, oceanic particle dynamics
Rebecca Robinson, paleoceanography, global biogeochemical cycles
Tatiana Rynearson, marine genomics and population genetics
Arthur Spivack, environmental and marine geochemistry

Marine Research Scientists

Alfred K. Hanson, Jr., marine biogeochemistry and photochemistry

Faculty Emeritus

Michael E.Q. Pilson, chemistry of seawater, experimental biogeochemistry and ecology

James G. Quinn, marine organic chemistry