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/.
Minimized water consumption in CSP plants - EU project MinWaterCSP is making good progress
05.12.2017 | Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum
Jena Experiment: Loss of species destroys ecosystems
28.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."
Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
05.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Life Sciences
08.12.2017 | Information Technology
08.12.2017 | Information Technology