International Peace – CTD, Fluorometry, Sediment, Oh My!

Today the sea is a field of oil rigs. But, depending on where we are there are occasional curious-looking brown pelicans and blood-orange sunsets to enjoy.

A pelican comes in for some aerial monitoring

A pelican comes in for some aerial monitoring

After a few days in port due to mechanical issues and a crew change, we set sail in the early morning hours last Thursday, through the Southwest Passage to the Gulf of Mexico. With Captain George at the wheel, we headed west of the well head to begin our sediment sampling operations. Our skilled, sampling crew consists of four scientists: Lead Sampler Ken Cerreto of Exponent, Carl Johnsen also of Exponent, and John Kizhakethil and Ed Atkin both of Oil Spill Response.

Ken Cerrito conducts a surface water sample with a backdrop of oil rigs

Ken Cerrito conducts a surface water sample with a backdrop of oil rigs

The scientists work together at each station to conduct CTD and fluorometry casts. To do this, a CTD and fluorometer are lowered together by a ship-side winch. The devices are lowered and raised three times through the water column. Next, those devices are removed from the winch and Go Flow containers (containers for collecting water samples) are loaded onto the winch. The Go Glow containers collect water samples at the mid-depth and bottom of the water column.  The samplers are lowered to the appropriate depth and then opened to collect the sample when they’re at the appropriate depth. We also collect surface samples with a pole from the ship.

Ed Atkins and Nick Gianoutsos prep the grab sampler

Ed Atkin and Nick Gianoutsos prep the grab sampler

But we’re a busy ship. In addition to all of that other stuff, we’re also taking sediment samples using a grab sampler. The grab sampler is a box-shaped apparatus that drop off of the A-frame on the aft (near the stern or back) of the ship. The grab sampler drops much faster to the sea floor than the multi-corers that some of the other ships are using. When it touches the bottom it makes one big scoop. We do this twice and each time we take the top two centimeters of sediment from each sample. These are then placed in a large bowl and stirred to create a composite sample. (No, we’re not making mud pies out here.) All of our samples are stored in a refrigerated unit we have on the deck.

Creating the composite from the top 2cm of the bottom grab.

Creating the composite from the top 2cm of the bottom grab

Tomorrow we’ll explain another apparatus we have on board: the LISST.

This entry was posted in International Peace, Sediment Sampling, Water Sampling and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to International Peace – CTD, Fluorometry, Sediment, Oh My!

  1. jeff hyland says:

    What were the dates of the International Peace cruise?

  2. Yuo says:

    Just right now commenting on the photos, which are excellent machinery they use, in Mexico there is nothing like that in good hour for their technology.

  3. Anahi says:

    What were the dates of the International Peace cruise?

  4. Just right now commenting on the photos, which are excellent machinery they use, in Mexico there is nothing like that in good hour for their technology.

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