Faculty In Memoriam

Benjamin P. Flower

Benjamin P. Flower

Benjamin P. Flower

Associate Professor
Paleoceanography, Geochemistry of Marine Sediments, Marine Stratigraphy
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1993
2012 University of South Florida Outstanding Graduate
Faculty Mentor Award, Honorable Mention


We are saddened to announce that Benjamin Flower passed away on Sunday July 1, 2012.

Dean Jackie Dixon writes “I am saddened to let you know that Ben Flower passed away this morning at 8:50 am at Bayfront Hospital. He went peacefully surrounded by his family, friends, and colleagues. He has been blanketed in love these last few days.”

A memorial fund has been setup in honor of Ben Flower. If you would like to give to this fund please visit the following link, click on the checkbox beside “260027001 Benjamin Flower Memorial Fund”.

Benjamin Flower Obituary

Tampa Bay Times article on Ben Flower

Research Interests

His research focused on the role of ocean circulation in past global climate change. Ben was particularly interested in sedimentary records of Earth’s changing environment and biota, on time frames ranging from the early Cenozoic to the present. He used ocean sediment cores (including Ocean Drilling Program cores, IMAGES piston cores, and short box cores and multicores) to examine major changes in the evolution of the ocean/climate system. One of the most valuable tools for elucidating past climate change from sediment cores is the measurement of oxygen and carbon isotopes in foraminifera by mass spectrometry. Mg/Ca paleothermometry is a relatively new technique he used to isolate the temperature component of the oxygen isotopic composition of foraminifera and calculate the oxygen isotopic composition of seawater, which is controlled by ice volume and salinity. We are also developing Ba/Ca in forams as a proxy for paleosalinity of the Mississippi River system. This multi-proxy approach allows investigation into the phasing of climatic and hydrologic changes, and into what causes regional to global climate change, including the role of Laurentide Ice Sheet meltwater.

A second major project will re-assess Gerard Bond’s finding that ice-rafting in the North Atlantic was closely tied to solar irradiance forcing during the Holocene (cited >700 times based on ISI Web of Science). With a new Postdoctoral Associate funded by NSF and the Comer Science and Education Foundation, I will (a) verify that the counting techniques can be replicated, (b) examine other cores to investigate the regional coherence of ice-rafting history, (c) conduct robust statistical comparison to improved 14C and 10Be records of solar activity, and thereby (d) increase understanding of the climatic linkages between solar activity and ice-rafting.

A new project will assess the impact of the BP oil spill on sediments and benthic communities on the West Florida Shelf and Slope. We will sample sediments from 100-2400 m near DeSoto Canyon using a new Ocean Instruments Multicore system (funded by NSF RAPID program). Analysis will include radioisotope dating, organic and inorganic geochemistry, and isotopic and faunal analyses of benthic foraminifera, in order to (a) document the presence/absence of oil and dispersants, (b) quantify the uptake of hydrocarbons in the food chain, and (c) assess any impacts on the benthic communities.