Available student project – The affect of ocean acidification on the structural integrity of calcifying marine creatures

Research fields:

  • Environmental Physics
  • Materials Science and Engineering

Project details

The increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have been shown to be change ocean chemistry. Enhanced CO2 levels increases the acidity of the water making it more difficult for marine organisms to form biogenic calcium carbonate. Many marine creatures form shells via a natural process called calcification where carbonate ions are combined with dissolved calcium to form calcium carbonate. Higher levels of CO2 interfere with this process by decreasing the available carbonate ions. This has the effect of making it more difficult to both form and maintain the shells.

Currently the ocean is supersaturated with two forms of calcium carbonate, calcite and aragonite. However it has been projected that by within the next 50 years aragonite will come understated in some regions dramatically influencing colonies of pteropods (microscopic marine snails) that form the basis of important food chains in Antarctica waters.

This study aims to characterize the properties of pteropods collected from Antarctica waters using nanoindentation and micro-CT scanning. Currently there are no studies on the materials properties of such shells.

Required background

Interest in materials science and microscopy with a background in physics or engineering.

Project suitability

This research project can be tailored to suit students of the following type(s): 3rd Year, PhB, Honours, PhD/Masters, Summer Scholars

Dr Jodie Bradby

E: jodie.bradby@anu.edu.au

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T: (02) 6125 4916

The Australian National University, Web site.

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