Elemental Oceanography

at the University of Hawai'i Mānoa

Photo credit: Ryan Tabata

Tons of metals enter the oceans every day, but it's normally more subtle than this...

During 2018, Kīlauea's Lower East Rift Zone Eruption began pouring fresh lava into the Pacific Ocean. Within seconds, cold seawater hardened the surface of the lava to rock, bottling up enormous pressures until it exploded, launching elements like iron, manganese, and cobalt into the surrounding ocean.

Metals are a critical resource for life. When abundant, these micronutrients bolster the metabolism of phytoplankton and other ocean microbes.

When absent, they limit growth and shrink ecosystems.

In the Hawco Lab, we examine the (usually) invisible processes that deliver essential elements to the ecosystems that need them most, and how life in the oceans have evolved to cope with widespread scarcity of metal micronutrients.

Who are we?
Well, first it was just me, Nick Hawco, and the lab gecko (name TBD). I started at UHM in January 2020 as an Assistant Professor, and have been working hard to get the lab ready for others to join in and collaborate, and to name the gecko.
I also teach OCN201: Science of the Sea and OCN643: Aquatic Chemistry at UHM.
Since then the lab has grown, and is still growing. We're currently looking for a postdoc to join our team.

Nick Hawco


Eleanor Bates

Graduate Student

Megha Rudresh

Graduate Student

Steph Briones

Undergraduate Researcher

Rhea Foreman

Research Scientist


Contact Nick at hawco@hawaii.edu