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Kevin's Blog

Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Research Cruise

Gust Sediment Suspension Chamber System.


Big Boy Box Corer


Fixing the cart for box corer






Get Muddy


Deploy the Box Corer



Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Research Cruise

Yesterday we ran the GUST experiment at station AB5 with reasonable results. Today we did the box core GUST experiment using cores taken from a box core off the back of the boat, which worked out fairly well. Dr. Quigg took some photos while we were putting the corer together and when we were getting the cores (I'll see if she can upload the pictures and maybe I can send one or two to you tomorrow). Heath Mills' team is also using the HYPOX and box corer for their experiments. (Molecular characterization of the microbial community and cell counts). Dr. Quig also has some photos of us after getting all the box cores done, we were pretty dirty (you'd be proud). I took some pictures of the GUST experiment setup today but I do not have my camera cable with me. I think Brian has a camera and if he has his cable I will have him email some tomorrow (he's asleep right now because he is on the night shift). Everything seems to working appropriately and tomorrow I will try to have some one video tape us using the HYPOX corer. So hopefully tomorrow I will be able to send some photos of what has been and is going on. 
RC Mickey

Day 8


Day eight Southwest Pass, LUMCON, New Orleans, and for a short time tonight Bourbon St.:

Today started with the last few hours of work of the cruise, and this will be the last blog entry for this cruise. As the clock was ticking and our time to work was dwindling almost all hands were working for four hours to get a few last sites in before 0400 when we were scheduled to return to port. I will take time right here to go ahead and tell a few things about this particular cruise in retrospect. GUST erosional chamber experiments are quite lengthy, so time consuming the concept that 10 total experiments would make the juice worth the squeeze so to say for the research. As a goal that was not expected due to a last minute shortening of the cruise 20 GUST sites was the high number goal. Preston, Kyle, and Dr. Xu completed 28 GUST sites. When the math is done out this is near no breaks in experiments. A total of 68 box core sites were visited, again a very high number. This cruise was incredibly successful. The weather was incredible, almost no swell until the last few hours, albeit the Caribbean islands make a lee of sorts to hide behind in the northern gulf a Tropical Storm dissipated and turned direction completely about mid way through. We had a little luck with us this cruise. At about 0300 the last core of the cruise was a bittersweet sight to see hoisted onto the fantail for everyone. Kyle and Preston were still in the lab as per the usual working the GUST chambers. As everything got settled, sub sampled, X-radiographed, and analyzed the last GUST experiment took place. The Ship went pretty silent for the first time in about a week; the only people awake were a few students on the observation deck for the sunset, the ship watch and the lab still working the GUST chambers. At about 0800 the final GUST experiment was finished. To fully understand Preston and Kyle’s joy for this to be complete, the experiments are long, and their hours were late and numerous, nearly always delirious to operate the experiment could be quite frustrating at times, some choice words so colorful people may have written down for when they stub their toes were inevitably muttered by the duo. After a few hours of breaking down the system Kyle and Preston finally got about an hour of sleep before it was time to clean up the boat. Since we literally brought the muddy Mississippi on board everyone worked to clean up for the crew and make their job easier, and be courteous. We hit port at about 4 Pm and loaded up. Half the ECU crowd made it to Atlanta tonight and the other half is scheduled to leave in the morning, while The CCU trio made the way past New Orleans to LUMCON or the Louisiana University Marine Consortium to drop off gear for another research cruise in 7 days on the R/V Pelican. We dropped off the equipment and I am writing this entry on the way back to the hotel, the idea is we have any energy left to check out the French quarter in celebration of the cruises success and being back on land after all if you find yourself outside of a famous city, you are naturally compelled to check it out. However it is still like previously mentioned bittersweet, being out of contact with the outside world and the nature of being at sea is not something many people can do but for those whose careers and jobs deal with it will understand the part of us wanting to go back out and work. Tonight New Orleans, and tomorrow back to Conway, this has been an incredibly enriching and a tremendous learning experience and networking in the field experience, also great for a resume I want to thank Dr. Xu for presenting this opportunity, Dr. Walsh, Dr. Reide and the great crew of the R/V Cape Hatteras for making this possible. As much fun as research cruises are everyone is glad to be going home and back to shore. I do not claim to be a very eloquent writer and have no earthly idea how to wrap up this blog entry or blog and could go on and on, I will leave you with a quote that can describe today albeit non traditional still better than I can articulate so I will let him finish it; as ice cube once said “today seemed kind of odd, no barkin’ from the dogs, no smog… I must say. Today was a good day.”

Kyle St Clair ran the Gust chambers and helped with deck operations.

Preston O’Brien-Gayes did the Filtrations of the colloidal sediments and sub sampling and helped with deck operations, Preston also wrote the entries.


Related Activity: 
Gulf of Mexico Research Cruise

Day 7

Day 7 (28° 52.000’ N , 89° 30.000’ W): As we work off the Atchafalaya region of the cruise, a long steam during the change of watch allotted for a needed extra two hours of sleep for the night watch. During the day watch an equipment malfunction lost 4 of the core tubes to the bottom. During 24/7 operations certain unforeseen events are inevitable especially when at sea. The tubes were replaced by the time the night watch began at 0200. We sailed through the night box coring and conducting GUST experiments. Long steams allowed for the GUST experiments to be done right as we arrived at each station and allowed for catch up work on sub samples. This also allowed Preston and Kyle to learn more about the other operations such as x-radiography analysis and its applications. Inexplicably, a pull up contest between Preston and Dr. Walsh happened 0430. Dr. Walsh won with four, though it’s been only a few months since Preston’s extensive hand surgery and he was still recovering. The hulk-like strength of Preston’s overcompensated left hand and upper body came through hard for a tie under handicap. Yes, in case you were wondering the contest used golf handicap rules for sports injuries. The low numbers account for the lack of a bar and just half a plank to rest your finger tips on. Well played, Dr. Walsh. With only a few days left to work we continue to be smothered and covered in muck like Waffle House hash browns; a sure sign that we are working hard. The crew of the R/V Cape Hatteras has been extremely accommodating and reasonable to the inordinate amount of sediment and dirt on the decks. The general consensus amongst the scientists is that other ships’ crews are much less accommodating. So a special thanks goes to the crew of the Cape Hatteras. Pull Up contest on the fantail











Related Activity: 
Gulf of Mexico Research Cruise

Day 6

Day 6 (92° 29.194 W, 29° 06.873 N): The R/V Cape Hatteras with scientists and crew began their long steam to the transects off the mouth of the Atchafalaya around 1300, arriving near the first transect around 0200. Everyone was very excited to see if there was much difference between the southwest pass erodability and flood deposits. Being juxtaposed next to the ECU crew in the lab inevitably a Rucker Park style rivalry has erupted over whose blog is better However I digress; Kyle and Preston worked diligently on the aforementioned Atchafalaya sites, and keep collecting sediments and data for further review and analysis..





Related Activity: 
Gulf of Mexico Research Cruise

Day 4 & 5

Day 4: Smooth sailing thus far since we started coring and sampling at 9 pm yesterday, the 0000 to 1200 shift managed to get ahead of schedule. The GUST system that CCU students Preston O’Brien-Gayes and Kyle St Clair operated went excellently. The data coming in looked good taking into account the whole night watch had been up since 0700 the night before for the most part this is quite a feat to be running at such a high rate after 24 hours working. The sites kept rolling in and minimal equipment failure or problems occurred. The natures of these particular research operations are extremely muddy so they ended as such with most everyone covered in muck. Work on getting the CTD running continued throughout the day but no word has trickled down to us since 0000 when our watch started. As we steam along we plan to move more away from the southwest pass to the Atchafalaya river system, a branch off from the Mississippi river that would be the natural path eventually for 2/3 of the United States to be diverted to without anthropogenic interference. It is expected more flood deposits to be found at the sites closer to the Atchafalya due to the opening of the Morganza spillway so the Mississippi delta was not overwhelmed by sediments. Right now we are still off of the Southwest pass over the Mississippi Canyon in 600 meters water depth.

Day 5 (28° 56.265’ N , 90° 10.320’ W) : The progress continued through the day shift as Dr. Xu kept plugging along from 1200 to 0000 today we will be making the steam to the West as we take a few core sites in transit. Preston and Kyle valiantly worked through the night on the graveyard shift and continued to work the GUST system and helped ECU working the deck on the coring and sub-sampling operations.

As per tradition minor things failed temporarily but quickly were rectified and progress continued. Still ahead of schedule and in transit right now.

Related Activity: 
Gulf of Mexico Research Cruise

Day 1,2 & 3

Day 1 (the Interstate): 12 hour drive from Conway, South Carolina to Biloxi, Mississippi. Arrived to Gulfport, Mississippi and loaded duffle bags and personal bags onto the R/V Cape Hatteras.

Day 2 (30 21.498 N , 89° 05.395 W): Today was spent at the pier in Gulfport. We loaded the boat, Kyle loaded up the cargo net while I caught the hook from the Midships Crane and loaded two vans and f-350 worth of equipment onto the boat. The remainder of the day was spent troubleshooting and dealing with the initial wave of Murphy’s law as we set up the gear. After a few last minutes of tweaks or repairs a trip to the hardware store and some rigging the CCU gear got secured and GUST erosional system set up custom to the boat and secured. ECU worked the fantail deck to better fit their operation and a few hours down time to relax from the Mississippi heat and a gargantuan feast and calls to family and friends before departing in the morning.

Day 3 (1600 29° 33.800 N , 88° 45.564 W. heading 191°): We shoved off and set sail for the first site just seaward of the southwest pass at 28° 46’ N , 89° 22’ W. As we shove off an impromptu knot briefing from Dr. Walsh and some of the students, of essential and handy line usages and finalized securing of equipment in the lab and deck. The twelve-hour steam leaves for a long scientific party briefing and introduction of credentials from the P.I.’s and background information in the galley. Shortly thereafter the briefing shipboard emergency drills or tutorials were given by the crew for everyone the likes of fire and man overboard emergency drills were taught to those not already familiar. The alleged E.T.A. for the first station is at 2100 hours. The CCU shifts running the gust system are setup that Kyle St. Clair and Preston O’Brien-Gayes will be in charge of the 0000 to 12000 watch running the GUST Erosional chamber system and Dr. Xu’s watch is 1200 to 0000.

The R/V Cape Hatteras before departure
(at Gulfport, MS, photo by Xu).

The multi-corers to be used for sediment sample collection.
(photo by St. Clair)


Tentative research cruise stations in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
(Courtesy figure from Reide Corbett et al.)

(from left) Marine science assistant professor Kevin Xu, as well as marine science students Preston O'Brien-Gayes and Kyle St. Clair from
Coastal Carolina University. (photo by Jessica)



Related Activity: 
Gulf of Mexico Research Cruise
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