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The biological carbon flux from the ocean’s surface into its interior has traditionally been sampled by sediment traps, which physically intercept sinking particulate matter. However, the manner in which a sediment trap interacts with the flow field around it can introduce hydrodynamic biases, motivating the development of neutral, self-ballasting trap designs. Here, the performance of one of these designs, the neutrally buoyant sediment trap (NBST), is described and evaluated. The NBST has been successfully used in a number of scientific studies since a prototype was last described in the literature two decades ago, with extensive modifications in subsequent years. Originated at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the NBST is built around a profiling float and carries cylindrical collection tubes, a feature that distinguishes it from other neutral traps described in the literature. This paper documents changes to the device that have been implemented over the last two decades, including wider trap tubes; Iridium Communications, Inc., satellite communications; and the addition of polyacrylamide gel collectors and optical sedimentation sensors. Information is also provided with the intent of aiding the development of similar devices by other researchers, including the present adaptation of the concept to utilize commercially available profiling float hardware. The performance of NBSTs built around commercial profiling floats is comparable to NBSTs built around customized floats, albeit with some additional operational considerations. Data from recent field studies comparing NBSTs and traditional, surface-tethered sediment traps are used to illustrate the performance of the instrument design. Potential improvements to the design that remain to be incorporated through future work are also outlined.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.