Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers on NOAA Mission Alter Course to Collect Sediment and Water Samples Near Deepwater Horizon Spill

10.05.2010
Scientists and technicians from the University of Mississippi and University of Southern Mississippi are part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-sponsored and repurposed ocean mission that is collecting seafloor and water column data from areas near the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology sailed late Tuesday on a university research ship to obtain core sediment samples from the seafloor and water samples from the water column in areas near the Deepwater Horizon spill source. They are aboard the Pelican, operated by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, which departed from Cocodrie, La.

The team collected its first samples at midday Wednesday and will continue doing so for several days before returning to port Sunday. The samples are expected to provide important information about the abundance of marine organisms and the presence of chemicals in ocean water and sediments – information for a baseline against which to measure change if those areas are affected by sinking oil.

The ship had been outfitted and ready to support a different NOAA-funded mission: to explore for deep-sea corals and hydrate communities associated with natural gas and oil seeps in the seafloor as well as mud volcanoes and shipwrecks of historical interest. That mission, which would have gone to an area in the Gulf not affected by the spill, was scrubbed in favor of gathering timely and much-needed data close to the spill's source.

"We plan to sample as close to the well head as is safe, reasonable and allowable," said Ray Highsmith, executive director for NIUST and principal investigator for both the original and revised mission. "We then plan to travel northwestward toward our long-term study site at MC-118, with stops for sampling, and then likely, sample northward from MC-118."

MC-118 stands for "Mississippi Canyon Block 118," an area about nine miles from the oil spill's source and the site of the Gulf of Mexico Consortium's Methane Hydrate Seafloor Observatory. In the seven years of the observatory's development, scientists have collected a wealth of geologic, physical, chemical and biological data describing the area – data that could be important in measuring changes there that stem from the spill.

With NOAA's agreement to change missions, scientists and technicians on the ship and ashore worked quickly to adjust staffing and to remove NIUST's two autonomous undersea vehicles from the ship. The AUVs would not have the appropriate sample-collecting capability onboard for the spill-related mission and would not work well in an oiled environment.

The research team brought aboard a large box corer used to take sediment samples from the seafloor and installed a large reel of cable to allow the corer to operate at depths equal to the spill source at 5,000 feet. An instrument called a CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) will measure the water's salinity, temperature, density and oxygen concentration at various water column depths, while bottles on the CTD obtain water samples.

The team includes chief scientist Arne Diercks, marine technicians Andy Gossett and Matt Lowe, and AUV engineer Max Woolsey, all based at the UM Field Station's undersea vehicle shop; scientist Vernon Asper and AUV engineer Karl MacLetchie both based at the USM facility at Stennis Space Center; and Luke McKay, a student at the University of North Carolina. Diercks and Woolsey work for USM but are stationed at the UM Field Station.

Before the ship departed, scientists and crew members received Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training as required by OSHA for those involved in the cleanup of hazardous substances. Oil is identified as a hazardous substance.

NIUST is a partnership of the University of Mississippi, University of Southern Mississippi and NOAA, funded by NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Samples from the mission will be studied by NOAA and by labs at the universities of Georgia and North Carolina and other members of the Hydrates Research Consortium.

NOAA works to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages the nation's coastal and marine resources. For more information, go to http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/noaa.lubchenco.

For more information on the Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium, go to http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/mmri/programs/gulf_res.html. For more information on NIUST, go to http://www.niust.org/.

Fred Gorell | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.olemiss.edu/newsdesk
http://www.noaa.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>