Natural iron fertilisation of oceans around Australia

Transit voyage from Hobart to Sydney including project to study the link between terrestrial dust and bushfires, and marine biogeochemistry.
Voyage No


25 Aug, 2016


29 Aug, 2016




Chief Scientist

Dr Andrew Bowie


University of Tasmania

Voyage summary

Transit voyage from Hobart to Sydney to relocate the vessel in preparation for IN2016_V04. During the transit, a number of research, outreach and training projects will be undertaken, including a project to quantify the importance of iron-rich aerosols from the Australian landmass for marine biogeochemistry and ocean ecosystem health.

This project will sample and conduct experiments on atmospheric particles containing terrestrial dust and bushfire smoke that are transported from Australia to its surrounding oceans. These data will contribute to larger integrated ship and land based observations for trace elements and nutrients in oceans around Australia in order to determine the geochemical nature, solubility and biological availability of atmospherically delivered trace elements.

The voyage will support the training and research of two postgraduate students from IMAS-UTAS, as well as outreach activities for a journalist from ABC Radio National, and media officers from CSIRO and partner institutions. Two piggyback projects will also be undertaken:

  • Spatial and temporal variability in the distribution and abundance of seabirds (Dr Woehler, BirdLife Australia): Project to study the spatial and temporal distribution of seabirds and marine animals in the oceans around Australia (first voyage in a multi-year project).
  • Hydrographic survey in vicinity of Flinders Island (Australian Hydrographic Office): 24-hour hydrographic survey east of Flinders Island of an area around an unconfirmed sounding named 'Minnie Carmichael rock'.

Voyage impact

The voyage collected data that will provide better understanding of the delivery of trace elements and nutrients from atmospheric aerosols into the oceans southeast of Australia. A program was also commenced to investigate the role of atmospheric transport in providing vital mineral and nutrients for marine ecosystem health and fertility in ocean basins surrounding Australia.

A wide range of seabird observations were made during the voyage, with a total of 33 species and 524 individual birds observed. This data will contribute to the wider project dataset, and provide important information about the spatial and temporal distributions of seabirds.

The hydrographic survey found no evidence to confirm the existence of 'Minnie Carmichael Rock' east of Flinders Island. This information will assist in safe navigation and updating of charts for the area.