Field Reports: Bilal Khan from Temple University Study on Exxon Valdez Oil Pollution (4)

Written by on September 21, 2009 in Other News, Physical Oceanography

Editor’s Note:   Field Reports are the unvarnished, unedited journal entries of marine researchers in the field.  They are intended to give readers a unique, inside look at the day-to-day nature of field work, an essential part of all marine science.  They should not be construed as representing the final conclusions or assessments of the study or of the principal investigator; merely a subjective account of the ongoing experience.  We hope you enjoy this feature.

Dr. Michel Boufadel checking out the blowout well upon removal after a successful test was conducted - © Temple University

Dr. Michel Boufadel checking out the blowout well upon removal after a successful test was conducted – © Temple University

From August 16th through the 29th, the team was in Alaska for the second time this summer. This time we consisted of two doctoral candidates, two masters students, one undergraduate, and our advisor, Dr. Michel Boufadel. We charted a different boat this trip, one specifically built for research in the Prince William Sound. This trip would be nothing but business, from the time we arrived until the time we left, everyone was busy at all times.

The first order of business was to check the dissolved oxygen boxes, now being referred to as the “sampling boxes”, which we installed on the last trip. Thankfully, although we prepared for the worst, they worked like a charm throughout the entire system. Also, the multiport and PVC wells we installed worked perfectly as well. This was all great news to us, as it meant we could start sampling immediately, and their wouldn’t be any digging necessary in order to install new equipment.

We also set up our tracer tests. We injected tracer at both beaches we went to, with two injection wells per beach. The first was the “blowout” test, where we tested a well until failure in order to get an idea of how our other injection wells would react to pressure and flow. Then we would inject with tracer and seawater for a length of time to form a nice breakthrough curve. All our tests were successful, with data analysis still taking place in the lab at Temple University.

Temle Oil Pollut Study Group - August 2009

Temle Oil Pollut Study Group – August 2009

We also collected about 500 samples from around the clock for background concentrations of nutrients and dissolved oxygen, and also tracer sampling. Nutrient samples were frozen and sent back to Temple for analysis on our new auto analyzer. We had to work with the tide cycles in order to take samples, for example we wanted to get tracer samples at rising and falling tides at the location of the injection, and once the water rises past the well it is too late. So the entire time we had to have someone on the beaches in order to sample around the clock.

The trip turned out very successful, although we will see how our predictions of how the tracer moves is still being analyzed. The tests themselves were conducted smoothly, and the team worked very hard to make this trip the best yet. Now we have lots of work ahead of us in breaking down the data and conducting numerous simulations, which we have begun already. For more information about the trip, see our website at (link no longer active).

Copyright ©  2009 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC

About the Author

About the Author: Celia is Director of Business Operations for OceanLines LLC and is a frequent contributor to both OceanLines and Marine Science Today. She is a certified diver and her favorite topic is marine biology, especially stories about whales. .


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