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In the Plume!

09/09/2011, 10:34 PM by Lollie Garay
Dr. Patricia Medeiros at work.<br/><br/>Credit: Adriane Colburn
Dr. Patricia Medeiros at work.
Photo Credit: Adriane Colburn


LAT 7.87N LON-52.87

Off the coast of French Guyana

 The Melville has entered the plume! Adriane reports that the color of the water has changed from the bright blue of the deep sea to a sediment-laden brown. Science teams are busy collecting samples as operations are conducted around the clock.

 Adriane spent some time today talking with organic geochemist Dr. Patricia Medeiros (UGA) about her research. Dr. Medeiros was on the ANACONDAS cruise last year. Her work focuses on determining the particulate and dissolved organic material carried by the river into the ocean to help explain how the river influences the biogeochemistry of the ocean. On this trip, she is collecting surface water and water that is just below the plume- at about 1000 meters. 

 She explained the steps in the process of her work to Adriane:

 “1. The first step is for her to filter out the particulates and analyze them to determine their composition. 

 2. She then puts them through a .2 filter to remove bacteria.

 3. What’s left is the dissolved chemical compounds such as sugars and amino acids- these she traps in a polymer to analyze.

 4. Finally, she analyzes the chemistry in the remaining water.”

 Adriane adds:  “This year she is trying a new photochemical experiment and a dark incubation experiment in an attempt to try to figure out what bacteria does with DOM's (dissolved organic matter) in different light conditions. So far, her experiments are going very well!”

 Adriane also shared some personal reflections on the cruise. “Being at sea in the tropics is pretty spectacular. At night the ship's lights illuminate the flying fish as they skim over the water, along with squid and schools of mahi mahi.  We have had great weather so far- brilliant sun, enough of a breeze so you aren't unbearably hot, and occasional rain squalls to cool things off. On a personal note, I would prefer it (the sea) to be more like a bathtub, but it is reasonably calm. “

 Hang in there Adriane- stand proudly on your sea legs!

 Good news! The “Send a Message “ link is working, so post your questions/comments to the science team and crew!

More from the plume soon!


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Question of the Day

  • Do the bacteria in the water make us sick?

    Only a few of them.  Bacteria are in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, hot springs, radioactive waste, water, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. Bacteria recycle nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as nitrogen fixation.