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.
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.
Members of the Sediment Dynamics Group are slowly arriving in Brazil for our fifth tidal Amazon River cruise. Yesterday along with our Brazilian collaborators we measured discharge at the town of Obidos, the farthest downstream gauging station on the Amazon. Today we will measure discharge on the Tapajos River, a major tributary that meets the Amazon at the city of Santarem. Tonight we meet the rest of our UW and Brazilian colleagues and continue our research farther downstream.
The group is well-represented at Ocean Sciences this week, with Andrea co-chairing the session on “Sediment Delivery, Transport, and Deposition in Aquatic Environments,” Dan and Rip giving talks on sediment transport in the Amazon tidal river and Waipaoa shelf (respectively), and Emily presenting a poster on Elwha sediment processes. Go Sed Group!
Dan: Monday, Feb. 24th, 10:30 am, room 312
“Tidal-channel flow and sediment transport in environments influenced by the tidal Amazon River, Brazil”
(Here’s a photo of Dan rocking his talk)
Rip: Tuesday, Feb. 25th, 8:30 am, room 312
“In-situ observations of wave-supported fluid mud on the continental shelf”
(And here’s the question portion of Rip’s awesome talk)
Emily: Tuesday, Feb. 25th, 5 — 6 pm, poster hall (#141, group P)
“Sediment dispersal and deposition on a submarine delta during dam removal: Elwha River, WA”
On Tuesday, February 18th at 7 pm, the UW’s Burke Museum will be hosting a series of brief (5 1/2 minute) presentations on Elwha Restoration science at the Neptune Theatre in the University District. The full program is available on the Burke Museum event page; topics include pre-dam archaeology, salmon colonization, fluvial geomorphology, and marine change. Emily will be presenting on sediment transport across the subaqueous delta.
This is offered in conjunction with an ongoing exhibit (Elwha: A River Reborn) at the Burke Museum, which runs through March 9th.
Tickets are $5 at the door.
Should be a fun event!
P.S. Love the UW newsletter photo of Aaron and Wenhua collecting mud! Short Takes Offers the Perfect Nerd-to-Speed Ratio
Andrea, Emily, and Steve Rubin (USGS)—with help from Ian Miller (WA Sea Grant)—made a successful rapid response cruise to the Elwha Delta, following a day of heavy rain. The goal was to collect surface water samples from the river plume. Given sufficiently high sediment concentrations, these samples will be usable for grain-size and concentration analyses.
Collecting these samples has been on the to-do list for a long time, but this winter has been particularly dry (= low river flow). The January 11th rainstorm did not flood the river, but still made for a pretty exciting day on the water and a truckload of great samples. Emily is currently processing these in the lab – sediment will be allowed to settle for about a week, and after a series of dilutions, will be processed using the Sedigraph. The goal is to determine size distributions of disaggregated particles in the plume.
Back to watching the weather for the next big one! With any luck, we’ll see a pineapple express (http://www.komonews.com/weather/faq/4307577.html) sweep through western Washington this winter.
As part of our ongoing study of sediment dispersal offshore of the Elwha River, we made two scheduled research cruises in late 2013 (August and November). The goal of both cruises was to service two seabed instrument systems (tripods) and survey the sediment plume, water column, and seabed across the subaqueous delta.
Instrument servicing was overall a success, though a couple unlucky instruments were returned to the shop rather than the ocean. We retrieved some nice data on advection of muds both during the summer dry season and a couple fall rainstorms. One of the photos shows Dan Nowacki and Niall Twomey hard at work in our favorite workspace, the Port Angeles harbor. Hooray for no rain in both August and November!
The ship-based surveys were also successful. In November we made our first Kasten coring attempt since the project began. The most successful site yielded about 40 cm of mud, which represents a huge change from the gravelly substrate seen on many other cruises. A new sandy/muddy deposit is growing outward from the river mouth into Freshwater Bay, while other parts of the delta remain coarse (gravel, sand and the occasional boulder).
The cruises were made possible by help from our dedicated lab crew, including Andrea, Chuck, Emily, Dan, Rip, Aaron, Katie, visiting international students Suzan and Wenhua (their first cruises in Washington State!), Kevin, Julia, and Niall, and also Nicole Harris from Western Washington University (who researches Elwha nearshore changes)—and of course the great crew on the R/V Barnes (Ray, Greg, and Bob). Looking forward to another great cruise in April!
We are currently accepting applications for a 10-week (March 31 — June 6, 2014), 15-credit, undergraduate research apprenticeship, at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs in the San Juan Islands, WA. This research apprenticeship focuses on the impacts of dams on the marine sedimentary system and the impacts of the release of reservoir-trapped sediment into the marine environment during dam deconstruction. Dam removal projects are becoming an attractive means of restoration for depleted fisheries, river ecosystems, and coastlines, but we do not yet understand the full range of effects our “restoration” will have.
With help from mentors, students will design and complete individual research projects using data they collect at the Elwha River delta; as part of a larger, NSF-funded research project. Research work will be complemented by lectures, guest presentations, and weekly field trips to a variety of nearby sedimentary environments. Through this classroom and experiential learning, students learn about the range of sedimentary processes that occur near river mouths, human impacts on coastlines, interactions between biology and sediment, and regional geology. The apprentices to be recruited for this course will have the potential to become informed scientists and managers in charge of decision-making in future restoration projects.
Fall 2013 was an exciting time for the Sediment Dynamics lab group!
Kristen Lee Webster gave her final presentation for the PhD, and turned in her dissertation, “Sediment dispersal and accumulation in an insular sea: deltas of Puget Sound”. Congratulations, Kristen, on this impressive accomplishment!
In addition, Aaron, Emily & Katie deserve a big round of congratulations:
Aaron Fricke defended his dissertation proposal and passed his general exam.
Emily Eidam presented her MS project on the Elwha dam removal project, and was approved to move on to the PhD program.
Katie Boldt won an AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award for her presentation at Fall AGU in San Francisco.