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Fieldwork

Studying Submarine Ground Water in Rhode Island Under Arctic Conditions


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Scientists from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut, along with a graduate student from the University of Rhode Island (URI), spent a chilly day in January on the waters of the Ninigret Pond estuary in Rhode Island collecting electrical-resistivity and shallow seismic-reflection data.

A seal hauled out on the salt marsh along the inlet to Ninigret Pond is curious about the activities of the USGS team. John Crusius and Eric White prepare gear and vessel for launching in the extreme cold. The research vessel Haeni breaks thin ice during a transit to more open water before beginning the surveys..
Above left: A seal hauled out on the salt marsh along the inlet to Ninigret Pond is curious about the activities of the USGS team.

Above center: John Crusius (orange suit) and Eric White prepare gear and vessel for launching in the extreme cold. The resistivity streamer is on the ground, and the yellow seismic towfish is on the left.

Above right: The research vessel Haeni breaks thin ice during a transit to more open water before beginning the surveys.

The work was performed as the pilot phase of an effort to constrain the coastal boundary between fresh and salty ground water in the area for a regional ground-water-flow model under development. The team's efforts were hampered by ice, high winds, a stiff steering mechanism, and a snow squall. After processing the data the next day, however (indoors), it became clear that the data collected were excellent and provided significant new information for planning future phases of the project. Previous work by a young Bill Dillon (USGS, Woods Hole, MA, emeritus) published 34 years ago laid the foundation for interpretation of the new data. Participants in the January operation included John Masterson and Rob Breault (USGS, Northborough, MA), Eric White (USGS, Storrs, CT), Andrea Hougham and Brad Moran (URI's Graduate School of Oceanography), and John Crusius and John Bratton (USGS, Woods Hole, MA). Additional surveys in Rhode Island, including collection of data on the ocean side of the barrier beach, are planned for later this spring.

A trackline and processed electrical-resistivity profile from the northern part of the pond.
Above: A trackline and processed electrical-resistivity profile from the northern part of the pond. The profile shows plumes of fresh ground water (blue shades) beneath brackish surface water (red and orange) and shallow ground water (yellow and green). [larger version]

The saltpond area of southern Rhode Island and generalized surficial geology.
Above: The saltpond area of southern Rhode Island and generalized surficial geology. [larger version]


Related Web Sites
Woods Hole Field Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Woods Hole, MA

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Search for Instruments Yields New Data

Submarine Ground Water in Rhode Island

Research Underwater Microscope System Patented

Outreach Sally Ride Science Festival

Meeting Highlights Florida's Natural Beauty

Meetings Coastal Environmental Indicators Workshop

Internet Tools Featured at Tampa Bay Workshop

Awards Normark and Oremland Selected AGU Fellows

Geist Awarded AGU's Citation for Excellence

Staff & Center News USGS Employees Donate Toys

Publications March Publications List


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