Just a quick update from the field -
Week 1 of Mekong field work went well; after planning meetings, the channel group (UW + Tulane + VNU) started multibeam and water column surveys, the mangrove group (UW + U. of Waikato + WSU + Boston U + VNU) began instrument deployments, and the shelf group (UW + NSCU + IMGG) loaded the boat & departed from Saigon.
Congrats to Katie who completed her dissertation, entitled “Fjord sedimentation during the rapid retreat of tidewater glaciers: observations and modeling.” Katie is leaving for an exciting new position as a Research Geologist in the Upstream Research Company at Exxon. Way to go Katie!
Dan C. spent the end of August in Saigon organizing logistics for the September field work. The scientific equipment has arrived, and we are excited to start in the field in a couple weeks. Here’s a view of the Saigon River from downtown Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), about 130 km northwest of our study site on the tidal Mekong River:
A big congratulations to Rip Hale, who successfully defended his dissertation on August 22! Rip’s dissertation was titled “Investigating sediment transport on the Waipaoa margin: linking in situ observations with preserved deposits.” Areas of focus included river-ocean coherence of sediment transport events, signal propagation in Poverty Bay, mechanics of wave-supported fluid muds, and identification of past event deposits through digital analyses. Rip is now headed to Vanderbilt University in Nashville for a post-doctoral position focusing on the Ganges-Brahmaputra River dispersal system. Way to go, Rip!!!
August 17–21 saw the completion of another successful Elwha cruise. After an exciting (i.e. rainy!) March, the summer was relatively quiet in terms of river discharge. The primary goal of the cruise was to remove, refurbish, and re-deploy the primary seabed instrument system, which we did in record time (36 hours!) after an initial failure of one of the release mechanisms (thanks APL for loaning us a backup control unit!). Meanwhile, ship-based survey efforts focused on collecting grab samples from the Freshwater Bay deposit to track any changes in extent throughout the summer. On the final day of the cruise, we also recovered 6 box cores from Freshwater Bay, which will be x-rayed, analyzed for grain size, and measured for radioisotopes in the lab.
Many thanks to everyone who helped make this a successful cruise! Bob and Todd of the Barnes, Aaron, Dan N., Wenhua, Julia, and Brianna from our lab group, Maggie McKeon from UW Civil Engineering, Bethany Nagid from UCSC, and Jacob Melly from Peninsula College provided invaluable assistance and no shortage of positive, creative thinking. We also enjoyed hosting guests from UW Advancement and the Seattle community on the box coring & and re-deployment portion of the cruise, and appreciated the opportunity to share the exciting research happening at the Elwha.
Dan Culling, Research Scientist joined the lab in March, and spent an intensive spring and summer coordinating field logistics for upcoming Mekong Delta field work. Together with Aaron and Emily, Dan organized and packed a 20’ container, which arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in late August. The field work, due to start in September, will focus on sediment-transport process and deposits in the tidal river, mangroves, and continental shelf. This work is an exciting collaboration between UW, Vietnam National University, VAST Institute of Marine Geology & Geophysics (Vietnam), NC State University, Washington State University, Tulane University, Boston University, University of Waikato (NZ), University of Miami, and UNSECO-IHE.
On May 1st, Andrea & Emily teamed up to give two presentations on mud dispersal downstream of the Elwha River dam removals at the Salish Sea Conference in Seattle. This conference, which is held every other year, rotates between Vancouver BC, Bellingham, and Seattle. Talks and posters focus on a range of science and cultural topics surrounding the Salish Sea, the waterbody formed by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, and Strait of Georgia to the north. This year’s conference included a session about the Elwha River restoration, which covered a range of topics from export of reservoir sediment to recovery of salmon species. It was a great opportunity to hear updates and collaborate with fellow researchers.
Willapa trip video clip
This spring, Chuck taught Continental Margin Sedimentation (Ocean 546) to Oceanography graduate and undergraduate students, and students in the Earth and Space Sciences professional masters program. The class covered key papers on sedimentary environments spanning marshes to carbonate platforms, and included intensive student involvement in class discussions and presentations. Field trips to southwest Washington and the Skagit River delta highlighted the continuum of transport processes from large and medium rivers to the coastal ocean, as well as sediment transport on tidal flats (and also the importance of a good, waterproof tent!). This class comes highly recommended for anyone interested in sediment transport and the coastal environments where we live.
Ocean 492 class, Spring 2014; field trip to former Lake Mills, Elwha River
It was a busy spring quarter for the lab. Andrea, Rip, and Ian Miller from WA Sea Grant led the Ocean 492 Marine Sedimentary Processes Apprenticeship at Friday Harbor Labs (FHL). This was Andrea’s fourth time teaching the class, which offers undergraduate students from UW and beyond an experiential learning opportunity focused on the Elwha River restoration. This year, 9 students — Hannah Besso, Isabelle Cisco, Julia Dolan, Atinna Gunawan, Carol Holman, Mollie Holmberg, Kelly Lawrence, Morgan Mackaay, and Sarra Tekola — conducted individual research projects focused on sediments, habitats, and chemical constituents. Students collected data on two cruises (from UW’s R/V Barnes and FHL’s R/V Centennial) and toured the watershed — including the dramatic landscape of now-drained Lake Mills — followed by tireless hours spent processing samples, analyzing results, and writing individual research papers. This course encourages students to undertake scientific investigation both as individuals and as a group, while educating the next generation of scientists about impacts from the nation’s largest-ever dam removal project and second-largest ecosystem restoration project.
Congratulations to Katie Boldt, who successfully defended her PhD research on 12 June 2014! Katie’s dissertation is entitled “Fjord sedimentation during the rapid retreat of tidewater glaciers: observations and modeling.” Before she moves on to her next adventure, she’ll be around the hallways this summer finishing up final thesis edits and enjoying the Seattle summer.