Welcome to the web site for Sediment and Solute Transport on Rivers and Margins (SSTORM) Research Group! Reide Corbett and J.P. Walsh from East Carolina University and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute lead the team.
Check out our research in/on wetlands, estuaries, barrier islands, shelves and groundwater.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trying to Get Home

Well, the cruise was very successful. We collected a heck of a lot of water-column profiles and seabed samples as well as deployed three tripods. The next challenge was/is to get everything packed and home safely. This is not as easy as it sounds. The major hurdles are 1) getting everything to fit in some containers (requires some shopping), 2) getting everything on the flights or shipped (we opted for the former), 3) avoiding samples being taken by customs and last but not least 4) actually surviving the trip. Fortunately or unfortunately, we are suffering through the last step. As I text this message we are arriving in Charlotte after our second red eye. Apparently the jetway we pulled up to was broken so they are towing our plane to who knows where. But we are not really in a rush as we have yet another long layover (3 hr). Our layover at LAX was so long (9 hr) that we decided to leave the airport to find some good Mexican food. The sunset photos are from when we decided to walk back. It was wonderful visit to LA. Hopefully we will be home soon.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There really is just ONE team!

Our days at sea have come to an end. We sailed into Wellington this
morning and have arrived at the Port of Wellington. After all the
mudslinging on deck and online, hard to believe that JP and I could
handle each others company. Quite the contrary...those that know us
enjoy our competitive nature and see the results that come of it. This
cruise has been no different. We are all quite happy with what has been
accomplished over the last several days, especially JP and I. We talked
at length about the cruise and our next steps in the science...we
haven't solved all the world's problems yet, but we are working on it!

The work completed here in New Zealand could not have been done without
an enthusiastic team of scientist and a competent and knowledgeable
captain and crew...we had the best. Thanks to all...the amount and
quality of work could not have been done without us all working as a team!

B Watch ... the Dream Team

In fact, we now prefer to call ourselves “D Watch” as we have proven to be the “Dream Team” on deck and in the lab. We had a few slip-ups early, but after learning the ropes (pun intended), you’d be hard pressed to find a drop of mud on our deck or a sample left unfiltered. We secured our lines and labeled all our samples. Notice that we had to wait until the end of the sampling to post a blog because we were so consumed with our work. This was clearly not the case with another watch which apparently found time to blog, watch movies, play ping pong and eat… a lot. I won’t mention any names (A Watch).

But enough of the comparisons, the fact is we had an all-star cast. During our last watch I walked around talking photos of the B watch members as they worked tirelessly doing their typical jobs. See the photos.  Read related text below.

Dick - Salty Deckhand and Tripod Master

April - Super Deckie

Alan "The Hammer" Orpin - Mr. Fix-it with X-ray Vision

Bella - Macrofauna/Microfauna Manic

Julene - Deck Sargeant and Extreme Clipboarder

Julia - Erosion Expert

Victoria - Fantabulous Filterer

J.P. - Ping Pong Wizard and Watch "Supervisor" (i.e., slacker)
Note: I have no idea what this thing is that I am posing on.  I just thought it made me look smart and official.

On the deck, we had the salty dogs Dick and April; both are former Coasties. They hooked gear and hauled taglines rain or shine, and then lugged cores and bagged samples until the deck was clear. Dick, a seasoned veteran of oceanographic research, also helped coordinate the tripod deployment. Alan “The Hammer” Orpin had a split personality. He was constantly maintaining the multicore and CTD, making sure no bolt was left untightened, and once a core hit the fantail he whirled into action, extracting samples and x-raying sediments. Bella “the Rhinestone Cowgirl” effortlessly operated the A-frame and sieved countless samples while looking chic in her diamond-studded sunglasses. Our Deck Sargeant was Julene. She kept everyone on task and recorded all our actions with her trusty clipboard. Julene also was a core processing machine,although our short supply of core extrusion caps may be a reflection of her passion for rapid core cleaning  Last but certainly not least, I must highlight the hard work of our lab rats, Julia and Victoria. They are the unsung heroes of our watch; they worked long, painful hours in the bowels of the ship. Victoria collected water and filtered samples like crazy. It was not an exciting job, but she made the most of it and snuck out on deck with some regularity to help with deck processes and view dolphins. Julia and Joey (on A watch) were the slaves to the erosion chamber. This equipment required constant attention and TLC, and Julia and Joey did a fabulous job processing many samples. They both hardly saw a ray of sun over the duration of the cruise, yet they maintained a positive attitude and smiling face through it all (almost).

Because of the fact that I had such a great watch, I was pretty much able to kick back, relax and “supervise” operations from the lounge and galley via the TV’s Deck Channel . It was a difficult job, but somebody had to do it.

Tonight is our last night at sea. The labs have been mopped; the equipment stowed. Now, scientists and crew have found a little time to do their laundry and get some much needed R and R during the long steam back to Wellington. We are due to arrive at 0800.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Leadership is critical to the success of any mission. The role of a
leader is particularly important at sea where the risks are large and
emotions run high. There are many different leadership styles. For
example, some can be excessively relaxed and apathetic, ignoring safety
concerns and proper work protocols, and disparaging and overly critical of
co-workers. Others can be completely the opposite and totally engaged in
and passionate about their work. Such leaders are typically mindful of
all safety guidelines, diligent in following science procedures,
respectful of and friendly with authorities and co-workers. During our
cruise, the watches have been lead by two very different styles (see
photos). The photo of Dr. Reide Corbett highlights how he takes a fairly
"hands off" approach in his leading. What you cannot see in the photo is
one of Corbett's angry tirades on watch, smashing ping pong balls
violently and cursing loudly at shipmates. Dr. J.P. Walsh, on the other
hand, is amiable, attentive and always puts safety first. The superior
performance and greater camaraderie of the "Dream Team" (B Watch) speaks
loudly to the importance of leadership.

The End is Near...

Well the collection of samples has finally ceased, but the fun
continues. The A-Team finished up the sampling this morning at 5:50 AM
at a site just off of the Mahia Peninsula. By the looks of some of the
pictures taken prior to our shift, it looks like the B-Team continued to
have a good time. I think their group picture sort of describes the way
they got their work done as well...good thing the A-Team was there to
pick up the slack, eh JP (the B-Team R-L: JP, Alan Orpin, Victoria
Rosin, Julene Marr, Bella Duncan, Julia Moriarty (low), April Brown
(high), and Dick Sternberg). At the B-Team's last station, JP and Alan
were greeted to a pants full of mud...gotta love fun at sea. Although
we are done collecting samples (no more mud), there is still plenty to
do. Everything needs to be broken down, washed with freshwater (see the
wash-up crew on deck), and packed. That said, we have about a 20 hour
steam to our final destination , Wellington, so there is some time for
recreation...FINALLY! Sid and I led the Pirates to victory over the
Huskies in a mean game of Ping Pong...although to be fair it was best 2
of 3. We are finishing up some lab experiments and making sure all of
the gear is ready to be stored.

It's a good day to be at sea!

Down to the wire…

We have approximately 17 hours left before we must leave our study area and start heading south for Wellington (~24 hours of steaming). The science crew has been working feverishly to collect all the samples we outline every day. We have occupied more than 65 stations (the approximate number at the end of my watch a couple hours ago). Our volunteers from New Zealand have been an incredible resource…we could never have completed all of this research without their hard work and dedication to the science…we really appreciate their efforts!

We have continued to collect CTD data, water column samples, and cores from the sea bottom. JP, Alan, and the day shift also collected some seismic data in Poverty Canyon the night before last. Julia and Joey have been working non-stop on the erodibility measurements from cores collected from a variety of sites across the shelf and slope…this will provide a unique dataset on the spatial variability of this important process (erosion/resuspension).

With all the work that is getting done, it is hard to believe we have still found time to enjoy some free time as well. We have started a make shift ping pong tournament (JP is pretty much ruling…you know that is driving me crazy), a few people jumped in the hot tub, and others have found an interest in the mini-series "Weeds" (the ship has a huge library of DVDs). So everyone finds their own way to wind down after their 12 hour shift…

The weather has really cleared up over the last few days. The sunrises have been spectacular…really make you appreciate being at sea. The seas laid down and we even put the rescue boat in the water yesterday to grab some photos o

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Mud Slinging Continues

Greetings Everyone! It's Day 6 of our cruise on the R/V Roger Revelle, captained by Dave Murline and the mud-slinging between the "A" Team and the "B" Team continues. As mentioned in an earlier blog, both teams are fervently deploying the CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth), coring for sediments, running the erosion chamber, filtering water, processing cores for isotopes, grain size, x-radiography, organics, running seismic lines, etc. I'd like to note that the volunteers have been incredibly hard-working!! By the way, not that any of us are competitive or anything but the "A" Team (midnight to noon) seems to be conducting ALL of their tasks the most efficiently (be it the wee hours of night or the beautiful sunny days we have at hand). What's particularly noteworthy is that members of the team are still finding time to eat meals during their shift and relax in the ship's hot tub. What can we say….we're just damn efficient…heck…they ought to name a TV series after us! Despite all the hard work, views like Young Nick's Head from the ship sure do make it worthwhile. After the two remaining days of the cruise, we begin our steam to Wellington where a few days of packing up our samples and muddy clothes and perhaps a cold beverage or two awaits!!

This blog was entered by Sid Mitra (a mostly objective member of the "A" team).

The Mud Assault Continues

Somewhere off the New Zealand Coast: I no longer can remember what day it
is, but I know we've got just 2 shifts left for each watch. The weather
has become very cooperative; the gentle rocking of the vessel reminds us
that we are at sea, but is not much of a hindrance to our productivity.
We continue to CTD and core across, along, and around the Poverty Bay
margin. Some of you might be wondering what the heck a CTD is. Briefly,
this instrument measures the Conductivity (salinity), Temperature and
Depth of the water, along with some other parameters, such as dissolved
oxygen, light transmission (related to turbidity) and flouresnce (related
chlorophyll), depending on the system. We deploy this instrument over the
side of the ship and lower it to the bottom. During the profile we can
watch the data on a computer display. The CTD is also connected to a
water sampling system which allows us to "fire" a water bottle at a given
depth and collect a water sample. We typically do this so we can measure
the amount of turbidity in the water at specific depths to compare with
the instrument-measured data. That's probably enough detail. Attached are
a couple of related pics: one of Kristen and Caroline taking water from
the CTD's Niskin bottles. Two of Reide directing a CTD deployment
(including one taken from a small boat). Also, you can see a close-up pic
of the Poverty Bay coastline as well as an image of the multicore meeting
the Waipaoa River Mouth.

At this point, we have completed over 50 stations and have deployed and
recovered equipment over 100 times. There have been a few hiccups,
including a couple lost tagline poles and a CTD brushing of the bottom,
and few problems continue to pose challenges including a burned out
erosion chamber motor and a struggling x-ray system. But all in all,
things are going well. After completing a long trancsect of CTDs from
from the river mouth to the outer shelf, we ran a short survey over
Lachlan Canyon. This provided some valuable additional data on the
sediment cover of this region, adding to our existing dataset from
previous cruises to understand sediment thickness and character. Of
course, we still have more mud to collect. I better get down to the deck
because my watch starts in 10 minutes!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The A-Team

Good Day for the A-Team (from R-L: Joey Kiker, Leis Van Kerckhoven, Emma Graham, Carolin Seeburger, Rip Hale, Kristin Lee, Sid Mitra, and yours truly in the back)...ok, I mean the night shift.  We had a productive night (I guess technically it is morning; midnight to noon) on our last shift.  The sunrise shed light on an incredible landscape (see the background to the A-team photo); we were within a mile or so of the NZ coast, pretty spectacular.  We didn't necessarily get through a lot of stations this past shift, but we did a good job on the ones we tackled and had a good time in the process.  We all work well together and everyone knows there job...there are many (A-frame operator, squirt boom op, tag liners, the deck captain (that's what I like to call myself), mud cutters, x-radiographer...the list goes on).  Unfortunately for Joey, he has been the teams "lab rat", running erosion experiments with our new Gust Erosion Microcosms.  We let him scurry out on deck this morning to help with the CTD and multi-corer at one of the sites.  Truth be told, he (and Julia on the "B-Team) has been working extremely hard and what can be a fairly frustrating job!  We have been working through a few problems with the Gust system (see the photo of me "fixing" the motor assembly...in my defense, this was after my 12 hour shift), but getting great data none the less.  Our spatial coverage of the shelf is pretty extensive, even this early into the cruise.  We hope increase our spatial resolution near the tripod sights in the next day or so...essentially tying the sites together from a benthic perspective.  OK, time to try and fix this motor, finish slicing a core and try to get some rest...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wet and Bumpy

The last 24 hours can be described pretty well as wet and a bit bumpy.  It has rained on and off so foul weather gear has been required for much of the deck work.  We have had quite a bit of trouble with the multicore trigger.  Corbett has been befuddled by the problem.  But, we have eventually resolved the problem and things are working better for the moment.  Alan, Danny (the Chief Engineer) and I (jp) repaired the trigger pins and installed a hose clamp on the core.  Hopefully, it will keep working.  We have had a fair share of other problems with filtering, etc. but we are ironing those problems out and now are working pretty efficienty.  Above are some photos of the main lab and the multicore so you can get a little perspective on the landscape. 
A big success yesterday was the succesful deployment of the last tripod.  Dick Sternber, Rip Hale and Kristen Lee from UW were superb in orchestrating the tripod prep and recovery.  The whole operation was directed by Andrea Ogston who unfortunately couldn't come to sea with us, but thanks to her oversight and expertise it all went over ok.
The picture of the Dog Door is to highlight how important it is to secure things at sea.  The second day the Captain yelled at me (as person in charge at the time) because people weren't closing the door and locking it.  I have have relayed the message.  Now all are safe and happy.
More later,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Walsh needs sleep...

Wow, a face only a mother could love...or could she?

Here comes the rain...

Well JP called it, it started raining on us at about sunrise and has been doing so off and on.  Combine that with 30 knot winds, 6-8 foot seas and you have quite the weather for working outside on an oceanographic research vessel.  As has been stated, we are on 12 hour shifts; I (Reide) was lucky enough to get the midnight to noon shift.  Although I don't think most of the "senior" people are really going off shift much.  THat can take a toll on you...I mean look at the picture of JP for heaven's sake.  After some rest, JP and I did manage to plan out next few stations.  Over the last 12 hours, we have occupied about 4 different stations; dropping the CTD and collecting water samples, coring, and most importantly ALL of the tripods are now deployed.  Cross your fingers...we hope to recover those beauties in about 4 months with loads of wonderful data!  With all the tripods now safely on the ocean floor, we will turn our focus to just the CTD and multicore.  We hope to knock several stations out in the next seeral hours...the weather is only suppose to get worse and the waves get bigger.  Great, who called for that forecast?  Time for me to head to my bunk...let the ship rock me to sleep!

A Pretty Good First Day

It's 3:30AM and I've (JP) been on since about 8 AM. It's time to call it a night. It was a pretty day, actually, it was downright sunny, and a few folks got some serious sun. But now, the wind has picked up and is now blowing pretty good, at ~25 knots. Tomorrow looks like rain... fun.

There has been a lot going on today. In the last hour I've been working on fixing a pump and a filtering system for the Erosion Chamber. This is a typical type of cruise problem. Things always decide to stop working, but now it looks like we're back in business.

Overall, it's been a pretty successful day, but we've certainly had our problems. We got two tripods deployed and have CTDed and cored at a few sites now. We had quite a bit of trouble with the multicore earlier, but after many failed attempts, we eventually for the issue (tigger was not locking in place) and got it repaired. Hopefully we can have a productive day tomorrow.

I need to hit the hay. G'Day, J.P.

Sorry, I'll try to get some pics up in the morning.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And We’re Off….Finally!

After much preparation getting set up, we've finally set sail for Poverty Bay and adjacent coastal areas (the map is from a recent paper by Clark Alexander and others). Everyone is excited to do some sampling. A tugboat pulled us away from the dock. With the help of a harbor pilot, the Roger Revelle was pointed out of Tauranga Harbor. A small pilot's boat pulled up beside the R/V Roger Revelle to retrieve the harbor pilot. On our way out, we passed by a pleasure cruise – that picture has been included to remind everyone that unlike the folks on the pleasure cruise, we are working hard....really! Anyway, since exiting the harbor, we've been doing about 30 knots heading toward our first station with the hopes that the conditions of the water column and the seabed will be conducive to deploying the first tripod. Estimated time of arrival at the first station is 10:30 Thursday January 14th New Zealand time (that's 18h ahead of US East Coast Time which is indicated in a subtle unobtrusive manner via the date stamp in some of the pictures).

For purposes of evenly distributing workload, two 12h shifts have been set up: a midnight-to-noon shift and a second noon-to-midnight shift; there are eight scientific crew per each shift. Once we get to the first station, the first task will be sending off the rosette with the Niskin bottles and collecting conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) data. After that, we will deploy the multi corer and retrieve some cores to get an idea of the seabed. If all looks good, we will deploy the first tripod. Getting everything going at the first station is always a challenge but we have an eager and hard-working group so we will get er done!!

G'day everyone!