Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We're Off!

We just switched from shore power to ship power, and we've have cast off from the dock. Most of the science party and crew have already crashed for the night. It's been a long day, and tomorrow will be very busy. After about 8 hours of steaming, we should be at our first station off the mouth of the Mississippi River. Then we will steam upriver, through Southwest Pass. The river is at a very high flow right now, because of flooding upriver in the Ohio River Valley.

Logistically, things are going pretty well, with just a few glitches. The biggest problem is that one of our controllers for the RaDeCC counters is malfunctioning, so we only have two counters instead of four. We'll fiddle with it more tomorrow, but even if it does not come back we should be in good shape.

Time to get a little rest while we can...


Loading the Boat

Dr. Krest, Leslie, Erik, and I left the USF yesterday at 1:30 in the afternoon, after loading the trailer and truck.  We drove all the way to Mobile, Alabama before stopping for the night.  Then today, we drove through Mississippi, to Louisiana, past New Orleans, and stopped at Cocodrie, Louisiana.  Cocodrie means crocodile in French.  It is an appropriate name, as many crocodiles inhabit this marsh land.  This is where lumcon is located.  We arrived about 3:30 in the afternoon and began transferring our equipment from the trailer to the Pelican.  
Leslie and Erik carrying barrels.
After a short pre-cruise meeting in the galley, which provided valuable safety information, we began nailing and lashing our equipment to the lab benches.  
This prevents the equipment from falling over while at sea.  
Erik lashing the RaDeCC pumps to hooks on the lab bench in the dry lab.
So far, the only mishap we have had concerns the RaDeCC.  The one of the converter boxes which relays information from the machine to the computer is not working.  So, we can only run two samples at a time instead of four.  I have heard of a few things breaking in the wet lab, but I do not have specific information.  There are about 15 scientist onboard and 5 crew members.  So, it is a full ship, with a lot of equipment.  We 
are still working on odd jobs, such as lashing barrels and pumps to the deck.  We leave dock at 12:01 am Thursday.  We will arrive at our first station 6-8 hours after that.  Leslie and Erik will be working from 12 am to noon, and Dr. Krest and I will be working from noon to midnight everyday.  Expect more blogs from the 4 of us tomorrow.  I am going to try to upload video of what we are doing in my next blog.
Dr. Krest is putting I-splices and back-splices into a rope we use for lashing.  This reinforces the rope.  I am editing on pictures for this blog!
The Pelican at sunset.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Science/Research Vessel

The goal of this research project is to better understand how the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers mix with the water in the Gulf of Mexico.  Freshwater, which comes from the two rivers is very rich in an element called Radium.  Saltwater, like the Gulf of Mexico retains, has very small amounts of radium.  So, we can tell how freshwater is mixing with saltwater by testing for concentrations of Radium.  Other scientists on board will be tracking how freshwater moves into the Gulf of Mexico by tracking nutrients and metals, because they are also found in freshwater.  We will be using different specialized machines to count Radium in the water samples we collect.  For more detailed information on the science behind our research, and on the are the trip will cover, visit our website:

The research vessel we will be traveling on to the sites at which we will take sample is the RV Pelican.  The RV Pelican is a 116 ft.  vessel owned and operated by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.  Its port of call is the Marine Center in Cocodrie, Louisiana.  For more information on on the RV Pelican and for pictures, visit it website:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Welcome to the Mag-Mix Blog

Welcome to the Mag-Mix Blog.  We will be adding updates through out the week on the science of our upcoming trip, the team of scientist, and how we are getting ready for the trip.  Feel free to leave comments or questions as the trips progresses.