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Summer Student Fellows Assist USGS Scientists Investigating Gas Hydrates and Carolina Coastal Change Processes



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Julie Bing and Jordan Landers, both members of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Summer Student Fellowship program, assisted the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Gas Hydrates and Carolina Coastal Change Processes projects in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in summer 2009. Bing and Landers were among 28 students selected from 212 applicants at 147 national and international undergraduate institutions. As the USGS representative on the selection committee, Kathy Scanlon reviewed applicants' records and helped match selected students with mentors and projects. Michelle McCafferty is the WHOI coordinator of the program.

Julie Bing and Dave Mason examining some of the electronics used to record sensor information from the Instrumented Pressure Testing Chamber.
Above: Julie Bing (right) and Dave Mason examining some of the electronics used to record sensor information from the Instrumented Pressure Testing Chamber. Photograph by Bill Winters. Inset photograph of J. Carlos Santamarina inspecting the IPTC provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. [larger version]

Bing, who recently completed a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Ohio Northern University, is continuing graduate engineering studies at the Ohio State University. She worked with the Gas Hydrates group on modifications of the Instrumented Pressure Testing Chamber (IPTC), which was originally developed and built by J. Carlos Santamarina of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Gas hydrate, an ice-like form of methane and water, is stable over a specific range of low-temperature and moderate-pressure conditions. Special "pressure cores" are used to sample sediments containing gas hydrate and to hold them at in situ fluid pressures to prevent gas-hydrate dissociation after the cores are brought to the surface. The IPTC is used to make acoustic, electrical conductivity, and strength measurements and to conduct small-scale methane-production tests on such cores. In the future, the IPTC will be managed by the USGS Gas Hydrates Project and jointly run by the USGS and Georgia Tech to support measurements on hydrate-bearing sediment cores obtained by U.S. and international coring programs in deep marine and permafrost environments. Bing worked with Bill Winters, Dave Mason, student intern Russel Wilcox-Cline, and electronics consultant Richard Nowak to improve the mechanical systems and data-acquisition capabilities of the IPTC. She also performed index-property measurements to characterize sediments being used to calibrate the sensors.

Jordan Landers Chris Polloni, Dave Mason, Bill Waite, Russel Wilcox-Cline, Ben Gutierrez, Claudia Flores, Marisa Rydzy, Peter Bratton, Bill Winters, Richie Williams, and Julie Bing
Above left: Jordan Landers with a display of a typical sonar image of bottom ripples recorded in winter off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Photograph by John C. Warner. [larger version]

Above right: A barbecue was held to mark the end of the 2009 WHOI Summer Student Fellowship program. Some of the USGS program attendees and invited guests included (left to right): Chris Polloni, Dave Mason, Bill Waite, Russel Wilcox-Cline, Ben Gutierrez, Claudia Flores, Marisa Rydzy (Colorado School of Mines), Peter Bratton, Bill Winters, Richie Williams, and Julie Bing. Photograph by John Crusius. [larger version]

Landers, who graduated this year with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Williams College, analyzed physical oceanographic data for John Warner and Marinna Martini. Landers got the first look at a dataset of measurements recently recovered from tripods deployed on the seafloor through the winter off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. These data are part of a larger study to understand sediment-transport processes and the impacts of storms on a coastal system, focusing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Landers processed sonar data and interpreted images of seafloor ripples and other bedforms taken at regular intervals. She then related the observed seafloor-bedform response to variations in winds, waves, and ocean currents in order to infer sediment-transport processes. Landers found that bedforms changed shape during storms and that ripple orientation did not always indicate mean sediment-transport direction.


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Fieldwork
cover story:
Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Growth

Scientists Respond to Samoa Tsunami

Scientist in American Samoa Helps Calm Tsunami Fears

Groundwater Studies on U.S. West Coast and Hawai'i

Staff Summer Student Fellows Assist in Scientific Investigations

Frank Shipley is New Western Regional Chief Scientist

Publications

November 2009 Publications List


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