2022 Martin Award Recipients

Hilairy E. Hartnett and co-authors

The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography presents the John H. Martin Award to one paper each year that has led to fundamental shifts in research focus and interpretation of a large body of previous observations. The 2022 John H. Martin Award is for “Influence of oxygen exposure time on organic carbon preservation in continental margin sediments” by Hartnett et al. for describing 'oxygen exposure time' as both a concept and a quantitative parameter, which have revolutionized the study of organic matter preservation in marine and lake sediments. The award will be presented at the 2022 Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA to lead author Dr. Hilairy E. Hartnett on behalf of study co-authors Richard G. Keil, the late John I. Hedges, and Allan H. Devol.

Hartnett et al., published in 1998 in Nature, was foundational to the fields of oceanography, microbial ecology, organic geochemistry, and geology by developing a novel parameter, oxygen exposure time (OET), that provides an integrated measure of the different processes influencing carbon preservation. At the time, it was known that a suite of biological, physical, and chemical factors affected organic carbon preservation in sediments, but the OET approach integrated dissolved oxygen concentration, sedimentation rate, and bioturbation as key drivers of organic matter preservation into a single parameter. With more than 790 citations to date, Hartnett et al. remains a highly relevant paper and the OET parameter described therein continues to be used in a wide variety of aquatic environments from lakes to coastal marine sediments to the open ocean.

Roxane Maranger, ASLO President, notes, “The tool developed by Dr. Hilairy Hartnett and co-authors to predict carbon burial efficiency was elegant and revolutionary to the field. More than 20 years later, the OET concept continues to be integral to oceanography and limnology, particularly as we continue to assess how climate change impacts on aquatic ecosystem oxygen dynamics will influence carbon sediment burial.”

Full Citation: Hartnett, H.E., Keil, R.G., Hedges, J.I. and Devol, A.H., 1998. Influence of oxygen exposure time on organic carbon preservation in continental margin sediments. Nature, 391(6667), pp.572-575. https://doi.org/10.1038/35351

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