Oozing with Possibilities!

Calcareous ooze covers approximately 48% of deep ocean basins (Garrison, 2012).  It primarily consists of calcareous planktonic organisms such as foraminifera, pteropods, and coccolithophores in a matrix of clay and silt. Calcareous ooze is named for the calcium carbonate rich tests or shells of these tiny creatures.  When they die, their “hard parts” fall to the ocean bottom and, over time, build up to form ooze.

Last week a sample of calcareous ooze from the bottom of the Arctic Ocean was taken by scientists on the Healy.  A sample obtained by USGS scientist Lisa Robbins was examined and sieved for grains larger than 125 microns.  After, the clays and silts were sieved out of the sample, there was an interesting mix of sand-sized minerals along with a number of planktonic foraminifera.

Calcareous ooze dredged from the Arctic Ocean Bottom. Photo: Bogdan Onac

Sieved sediment fraction greater than 125 microns from calcareous ooze showing planktonic foraminifera among fragments of rock and mineral. Photo: Bogdan Onac

Additional photograph of sieved sediment fraction greater than 125 microns of calcareous ooze. Planktonic foraminifera among rock and mineral fragments. Photo: Bogdan Onac

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