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USGS Participates in Sediment-Transport Cruise in the Adriatic Sea

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deploying the GEOPROBE tripod
Deployment: Joanne Ferreira, Modesto Bra–as Area (bosun on the research vessel Garcia del Cid), and Chris Sherwood deploy the GEOPROBE tripod.
Several U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists and technicians participated in a major deployment cruise for the PASTA (Po and Apennine Sediment Transport and Accumulation) study. PASTA is a component of EuroSTRATAFORM, a research program using selected areas of the European continental margin to explore the fate of sediment particles from their sources in rivers to their deposition on shallow deltas, on the continental shelf, and in deep-sea basins.

Chris Sherwood, Joanne Ferreira, Dave Rubin, Jonathan Borden, and Hank Chezar traveled to Italy in October, and after spending long days prepping gear at the well-equipped marine facility at Istituto de Geologia Marina (and long dinners in the restaurants of Bologna), they deployed tripods and moorings in the Adriatic Sea.

The deployment cruise went almost exactly as planned, which is remarkable, considering that North American scientists were working in Italian waters on a Spanish ship. The officers and crew of the research vessel Garcia del Cid, from the Instituto de Ci¸ncies del Mar (ICM) in Barcelona, proved outstanding mariners, and all the coring, mooring, tripod, and water-column work went perfectly.

The USGS gear had been prepared at the USGS' Marine Facility (MARFAC) in Redwood City, CA, by Dave Hogg, Dave Gonzales, Kevin O'Toole, and Hal Williams and at the USGS' Marine Operations Facility (MOF) in Woods Hole, MA, by Marinna Martini and Andree Ramsey. It arrived in Italy and breezed through customs in perfect condition.

Dave Rubin
Above: In this rare image of Dave Rubin at sea, he is seen putting cable ties on the 10-m flow tripod.
Below: Hank Chezar puts the finishing touches on the "Big Top," a veritable three-ring circus of bottom-sediment instrumentation.

Hank Chezar
USGS scientists teamed up with Canadian scientists Paul Hill and Tim Milligan to deploy two tripods at the sand-mud transition zone (about 10-m water depth) off the Chienti River near Ancona. Dave and Hank will collect daily images of bottom-sediment texture with their newly developed micro-video camera from a tripod that will also provide sonar images of bedforms, video photographs of bottom features, high-resolution photographs of particles in the bottom boundary layer, and acoustic-doppler profiles of currents in the overlying waters.

A nearby tripod, prepped by Chris, Paul, and Joanne, will measure waves, currents, turbulence, and suspended sediment near the bottom with acoustic technology, as well as turbidity, temperature, and salinity. The tripods are protected by three guard buoys, provided by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Washington, that support near-surface instruments to measure temperature, salinity, and turbidity.

The USGS also deployed a GEOPROBE tripod at 20-m water depth, which will measure near-bottom flow and sediment transport. USGS emeritus scientist Dave Cacchione (Menlo Park, CA) collaborated with Pere Puig (ICM, Barcelona) to deploy an instrumented mooring off the Pescara River to measure internal waves.

The USGS deployments are part of a larger measurement program with seven tripods, two trawl-resistant bottommounts, an instrumented subsurface mooring, and a dozen guard buoys, some with instruments. The array extends from the Po River to the Gargano Peninsula and will remain in the water until May 2003. A February refurbishing cruise and the May recovery cruise will take place on the Seaward Johnson II, from Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Extensive coring, bottom sampling, and hydrographic surveys are being conducted. If all goes as planned, the PASTA study will provide one of the most comprehensive data sets ever for process studies of sediment transport and deposition in a coastal environment.

This winter, the Adriatic Sea is the site of an unprecedented number of major and complementary studies, in addition to the PASTA study:

  • the Naval Research Laboratory, in conjunction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)'s Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT) Undersea Research Centre (La Spezia, Italy), is conducting several studies, including an Adriatic circulation experiment;
  • Croatian scientists are mounting an East Adriatic circulation experiment;
  • the Italian Ministry for the Environment and Territory is launching ADRICOSM, a pilot project to develop an integrated coastal-management system for the Adriatic Sea;
  • the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is funding a large-scale physical-oceanographic research program with the acronym DOLCE VITA; and
  • the European Union is funding a pilot Mediterranean forecasting system.

deploying the 'Big Top'
Paul Hill, Dave Rubin, Joanne Ferreira, and Modesto Bra–as Area deploy the "Big Top" off the Apennine coast.
Rich Signell, on loan to NATO/SACLANT from the USGS' Woods Hole Field Center, has been instrumental in helping to coordinate all of these programs.

EuroSTRATAFORM, which is funded by the Office of Naval Research, expands process studies of continental-margin sediment transport and formation of sedimentary strata to geographic regions in the Adriatic Sea and the Gulf du Lyons and to continental-slope regions off Spain and Norway. The October-November cruise was a collaborative effort, with

  • North American participants from the USGS, WHOI, the University of Washington, Dalhousie University, and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography;
  • Italian participants from the Istituto Geologia Marina (Bologna) and the Istituto Biologia Marina (Venice), both divisions of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche; and
  • Spanish participants from the Instituto de Ci¸ncias del Mar (Barcelona).

Related Web Sites
USGS Marine Facility
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Redwood City, CA
Istituto de Geologia Marina
Italian National Research Council
Instituto de Ciències del Mar (ICM)
Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
non-profit research facility

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
USS Arizona

Adriatic Sea Sediment-Transport Cruise

Bear Lake Sea-Floor Mapping

Assateague Island Vegetation Mapping

Field-Testing New Portable Drilling System

Research Diamondback Terrapin

Outreach Transoceanic Dust Impacts

Woods Hole Field Center Open House

St. Petersburg Field Center Open House

Great American Teach-In

Fourth-Graders Tour St. Petersburg Field Center

Girl Scouts 90th Anniversary


Meetings Effects of Fishing Activities on Benthic Habitats

Planning Gas-Hydrates Research

Science and Politics in Ecosystem Decisions

Sea-Floor Mapping Techniques

Staff & Center News GHASTLI Lab Visitors

Science Museum Board

Two New Scientists

Louisiana Coastal-Restoration Advisory Board

Air Medical Transport Center Tour

MRIB Programmer

New Webmistress

Publications Dec./Jan. Publications List

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