Dr. Sophie Paul (Scientific Fellow)

Research project:

Trace metal geochemistry of deep-sea sediments and the potential impact of manganese nodule mining on the benthic trace metal cycle

During my project, part of the JPI Oceans projects MiningImpact and MiningImpact2 , I focused on environmental impacts of a potential future mining of ferromanganese nodules from the deep seafloor. I investigated seafloor disturbances that could result from mining activities, such as sediment removal and release of heavy metals from pore waters. In the beginning of my project, I went sampling on two cruises on board the RV Sonne in 2015 to investigate the long-term geochemical impact of a manganese nodule field in the Peru Basin that had been disturbed as part of the DISCOL project 26 years before. Afterwards, I analyzed sediment and pore water in the lab to look at the impact of the disturbance on the geochemical equilibrium at the seafloor-bottom water boundary with a focus on trace metal concentrations. The goal was to predict possible environmental impacts from deep-sea mining with respect to potential toxic effects of metals and biogeochemical disturbances. In 2019, I participated in cruise SO268 on RV Sonne to the Clarion-Clipperton-Zone in the central Pacific to conduct baseline studies for a large-scale nodule collector test in the Belgian and German contractor areas for polymetallic nodule mining.

Since July 2021 I work at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. My present work areas include early diagenetic processes in the sediment and rare earth element (REE) cycling in the deep-sea sedimentary environment, including the Peru Basin and the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the central Pacific. The goal is now to understand the usability of REEs and specifically Nd isotopes as tracers in the near-bottom water column and in sedimentary archives due to interactions with the pore water.

Find out more about my current work at GEOMAR here.


2018-2022 JPI Oceans, MiningImpact2, Environmental Impacts and Risks of Deep-Sea Mining (BMBF)

RV SONNE (SO 268, Leg 1 & 2) research cruise to the Clarion Clipperton Zone, Pacific, Feb. – May 2019

2020 Metal-ML, Metal geochemistry meets machine learning: Assessing sedimentary and pore-water rare earth element variability from local to basin scale across the NE Atlantic Ocean (DFG)

RV Maria S. Merian (MSM96) research cruise to the Atlantic Ocean, October 2020

Blog from the cruise: https://www.oceanblogs.org/msm96/

2020-2022 TRAM, Tracing origin and distribution of geogenic and anthropogenic dissolved and particulate critical high-technology metals in the southern North Sea (DFG)

RV Meteor (M169) research cruise to the North Sea, December 2020

Blog from the cruise: https://www.jacobs-university.de/blog-post-m169P

2015-2017 JPI Oceans, MiningImpact, Ecological Aspects of Deep-Sea Mining (BMBF)

RV SONNE (SO 242, Leg 1 & 2) research cruise to the Peru Basin, Pacific, July – Oct. 2015

Amazon-Geotraces (DFG)

RV METEOR (M147) research cruise to the Amazon Estuary, May 2018


Paul, S. A. L., Zitoun, R., Noowong, A., Manirajah, M. and Koschinsky A. (2021) Copper-binding ligands in deep-sea pore waters of the Pacific Ocean and potential impacts of polymetallic nodule mining on the copper cycle. Scientific reports 11: 18425. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-97813-3

Spiegel, T., Vosteen, P., Wallmann, K., Paul, S. A. L., Gledhill, M. and Scholz, F. (2021): Updated estimates of sedimentary potassium sequestration and phosphorus release in the Amazon shelf. Chemical Geology 560:120017. doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2020.120017

Paul, S. A. L., Haeckel, M.,  Bau, M., Bajracharya, R. and Koschinsky, A. (2019): Small-scale heterogeneity of trace metals including rare earth elements and yttrium in deep-sea sediments and porewaters of the Peru Basin, southeastern equatorial Pacific. Biogeosciences 16, 4829–4849, doi: 10.5194/bg-16-4829-2019

Paul, S. A. L., Volz, J. B., Bau, M., Köster, M., Kasten, S. and  Koschinsky, A. (2019) Calcium phosphate control of REY patterns of siliceous-ooze-rich deep-sea sediments from the central equatorial Pacific. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 251, 56-72, doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2019.02.019

Paul, S. A. L., Gaye, B., Haeckel, M., Kasten, S. and Koschinsky, A. (2018) Biogeochemical Regeneration of a Nodule Mining Disturbance Site: Trace Metals, DOC and Amino Acids in Deep-Sea Sediments and Pore Waters. Frontiers in Marine Science 5 (Article number 117). DOI 10.3389/fmars.2018.00117.

Conference presentations:

Paul, S., Bau, M., Volz, J., Köster, M., Kasten, S., Haeckel, M., and Koschinsky, A. (2019): Calcium phosphates in Pacific deep-sea sediments as proxies for the REY distribution in pore waters. Goldschmidt 2019. Barcelona, Spain.

Paul, S. and Koschinsky, A. (2018): Sediment and pore water geochemistry in the deep-sea and potential impacts of manganese nodule mining. Gordon Research Conference 2018, Hong Kong, China.

Paul, S. and Koschinsky, A. (2018): Sediment and pore water geochemistry in the deep-sea and potential impacts of manganese nodule mining. Gordon Research Seminar 2018, Hong Kong, China.

Paul, S. and Koschinsky, A. (2017): Geochemical assessment of heavy metals in nodule mining disturbance sites: implications for standard development and monitoring. 46th Underwater Mining Conference (UMC), Berlin, Germany.

Paul, S. and Koschinsky, A. (2017): Geochemical assessment of heavy metals in nodule mining disturbance sites: implications for standard development and monitoring. 46th Underwater Mining Conference (UMC), Berlin, Germany, 24.-29.09.2017. (Talk)

Paul, S.,Koschinsky, A., Gaye, B., and Daehnke, K. (2017): Long-term impacts of a manganese nodule mining experiment on sediment and pore water geochemistry. Goldschmidt 2017, Paris, France, 13.-18.08.2017. (Talk)

Paul, S. and Koschinsky, A. (2017): 26-year Impact Assessment of Heavy Metal Distributions in Sediment and Pore Water at a Deep-Sea Nodule Mining Disturbance Site. 14th International Symposium on the Interaction between Sediments and Water (IASWS), Taormina, Italy, 17.-22.06.2017. (Talk)

Paul, S., Bau, M., Kuhn, T., Volz, J., Kasten, S., and Koschinsky, A. (2017): Controls on the Distribution of Rare Earth Elements and Yttrium in Siliceous Ooze Rich Sediments from the Pacific Ocean. ASLO 2017 Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA, 26.02.-03.03.2017. (Talk) Available at: http://www.sgmeet.com/aslo/honolulu2017/viewabstract.asp?AbstractID=28661

Post, J., Koschinsky, A. and Paul, S. (2015): Benthic Impact Experiment DISCOL in the manganese nodule area of the Peru Basin – First results of a revisit after 26 years. Underwater Mining Conference (UMC), St. Petersburg, Florida, 01.-06.11.2015. (Talk)

Sophie in front of RV Sonne in the port of Guayaquil, Ecuador
Working on sediments in a glove bag to avoid contact with oxygen, cruise SO242