Sorry that it has been so many days since I last posted on the Blog…life has been quite busy! We have been very busy adjusting to our new surroundings, prepping field gear, and sampling in our new surroundings and platform (Zodiacs)!
I thought I would start with some of the science we are doing while on science….I will follow up with another Blog that focuses on "life" on station.
We arrived on Station on the 19th of December. Since we arrived, we have been actively sampling the surrounding waters. We are limited in how far we can go away from station by Zodiac (2 nautical miles) for safety reasons. So, we have clearly focused this aspect of our research on nearshore processes…quantifying groundwater and freshwater discharge to the coastal ocean. The first image is of the study area (within the blue halo) where we are currently focusing our efforts...Palmer Station is near the center of the image. The individual points represent the sites we have occupied (up to about the end of last week). We are now focusing in on a few areas on the map that we will sample weekly for the next 3-4 weeks. We will also do some work on land (look for the shaded boxes)…collecting groundwater directly with a drive point sampler and imaging the subsurface (the shallow surficial aquifer) using electrical properties.
Sampling off of zodiacs does have its challenges…primarily space, but we also need to work in the right safety equipment for the conditions (note the bright orange Mustang suits). We have a lot of equipment and are collecting large volumes of water, so we can only sample one site before we have to unload those samples and load additional sample bottles. Like the work we were doing on the LMG a couple weeks ago, we are sampling for several tracers (radium, radon, helium, oxygen isotopes) that will give us information on the source of water and for a few specific chemicals that plants need to grow (nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, silica, and iron). We also drop a CTD at each station to tell us something about the water column…so, what does CTD stand for? The 'C' in CTD is usually the hard one…a hint is that it refers to the electrical properties of the water that is a function of the salinity.
I have included some pictures form a say of sampling last week. Some brash ice had blown in the night before, making navigating away from Station and bit tedious and slow. The picture is of Leigha Peterson (Coastal Carolina University graduate student) helping me navigate the best route toward open water. On this particular day, we were able to use two Zodiacs…this makes logistics much easier for us, allowing one boat to shuttle water back to Station while the remaining Zodiac continues to sample. The third picture shows how crowded the boat can become while sampling. The final picture shows David Hawkins (aka. The Hawk) and Jared Crenshaw (both ECU graduate students) lowering the CTD on station.
Let the sampling for the day commence…