Dr Will Homoky
Junior Research Fellow in Earth Sciences
Dr Will Homoky is a Junior Research Fellow at St Edmund Hall and Independent Research Fellow funded by the NERC (Natural Environment Research Council), based in the Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford.
Will is a geochemist interested in the nature of oceans and climate. What makes the sea productive for photosynthetic life largely depends on the dissolution of bio-essential elements from the Earth’s crust.
He measures the natural variability of elemental nutrients (e.g. iron, Fe) that cycle between oceans and seafloor. Many of these solid-aqueous exchanges occur as pre-cursor reactions during the formation of marine sedimentary rocks, or during the circulation of hydrothermal fluids at mid-ocean ridges. Other exchanges occur in the overlying water, for example, in particle-rich suspensions overlying the seafloor, and in plumes of hydrothermal fluid dispersing in the deep-ocean. These settings critically impact the amount of nutrition that is available for marine eco-systems, and can thereby influence the global cycling and storage of carbon between the atmosphere, oceans and sediments.
Will aims to find the mechanisms and quantify the rates of trace element exchanges between rocks, minerals and the ocean. His research looks to different types of seafloor environments, from shallow anoxic coasts to deep ventilated basins. Presently, he is exploring the use of radioisotopes in combination with new autonomous sampling technology to trace and quantify rates of sediment-water exchanges. He has other collaborative interests that overlap here too. Briefly, for example, chemical signals preserved in sediments (e.g. Cd and Ba isotopes or lipid biomarkers) might be useful proxies for ocean conditions in the past, but their interpretation depends on our knowledge of signal preservation processes that we see occurring at the ocean floor today.