Mark Altabet

Mark Altabet

Professor / Chairperson

SMAST / Estuarine & Ocean Sciences

Isotope Biogeochemistry Group Website




School for Marine Science & Technology West, New Bedford 122A


1984Harvard UniversityPh.D
1979State University of New York at Stony BrookBS





Thesis research on an experimental or theoretical project in Marine Science or Technology under a faculty advisor.

Advanced treatment of marine biogeochemistry and global environmental change. The oceans play a predominant role in global environmental change particularly with respect to their major geochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur, etc. The major features of these cycles as they operate on a global basis are presented. Examples of natural and anthropogenic perturbations at present and in the past are a major focus of this course. A significant segment of the material deals directly with the role of oceans in controlling atmospheric carbon dioxide through its biological and solubility pumps.

Investigations of a fundamental and/or applied nature representing an original contribution to the scholarly research literature of the field. PhD dissertations are often published in refereed journals or presented at major conferences. A written dissertation must be completed in accordance with the rules of the Graduate School and the School for Marine Science and Technology. Admission to the course is based on successful completion of the PhD comprehensive examination and submission of a formal proposal endorsed by the student's graduate committee and submitted to the SMAST Graduate Program Director.


Research activities

  • Nitrogen isotope and N2/Ar biogeochemistry of the Peru suboxic zone, NSF, $412,000, Feb 01 2009 to Jan 30 2013
  • Collaborative Research: The role of regenerated nitrogen for rocky shore productivity, NSF, $183,381, Sept 01 2009 to August 31 2013
  • Collaborative Research: High resolution paleoceanography in the heart of the Equatorial Pacific Cold Tongue, NSF, $170,000 over 3years
  • Collaborative Research: Microbial associations in zooplankton: significance for the marine nitrogen cycle, NSF, $616,980 over 3 years ($150,000 supports M. Altabet’s component of this project), August 01 2011 to July 31 2014
  • Collaborative Research: Autonomous Lagrangian Floats for Oxygen Minimum Zone Biogeochemistry, NSF, $349,607 over 3 years


Research interests

  • Major marine biogeochemical cycles
  • Global N cycle and its interactions with climate change
  • Atmospheric CO2 concentration
  • Coastal eutrophication

Select publications

  • Bryant Mason, A., Y. J. Xu, and M.A. Altabet (2013).
    Water Resources Research
    Limited capacity of river corridor wetlands to remove nitrate - A case study on the Atchafalaya River Basin during the 2011 Mississippi River Flooding, 49
  • Montes, E., M. A. Altabet, F. Muller-Karger, M. I. Scranton, R. Thunell, Cl. Benitez-Nelson, L. Lorenzoni, Y. Astor (2013).
    Biogenic nitrogen gas production at the oxic-anoxic interface in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela, 10, 267-279.
  • Altabet, M.A., E. Ryabenko, L. Stramma, D. Wallace, M. Frank, P. Grasse, and G. Lavik (2012).
    An eddystimulated hotspot for fixed nitrogen-loss from the Peru Oxygen Minimum Zone, 9, 4897-4908.

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