In January we had an amazing opportunity to host a student cruise on the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, a 274-ft global class research vessel. The 2-day cruise began and ended in Seattle, and we took a group of 20 students and 10 researchers to the Elwha Delta in the Strait of Juan de Fuca to learn about sedimentary processes in an energetic tidal system. The Thompson is a bit bigger than the R/V Barnes, our typical research platform!
On the second day of the cruise, we successfully re-deployed a seabed instrument which will spend up to 4 months collecting data from the bottom boundary layer (portion of the water column immediately above the sea bed).
This is part of an ongoing 3-year study of the sediment dynamics offshore of the Elwha River during and after deconstruction of two hydroelectric dams near the coastline, a historic restoration project described by Olympic National Park’s Dam Removal Blog and chronicled by a series of time-lapse images (also from the National Park Service) posted here.
As part of the educational program for the cruise, we collected water and seabed samples from deep and shallow sites – though the shallow sites were only accessible using the Thompson’s work boat. It was hard work, but someone had to do it…
We were excited to see a new sandbar growing offshore of the river mouth. The sediment plume generated by the river was not particularly large on Jan. 24th (not much recent rain), but we still collected some nice temperature/salinity/sediment profiles.