Postcards from The Field

Aloha From Kona Things Have Been Heating Up In

Aloha from Kona!

Things have been heating up in Hawaii!  Well, heating up and cooling down to be precise.  Seatrec declared another successful sea trial off the coast of Hawaii with the recovery of a profiling float powered by two SL1 units that harvest energy from the hot and cool temperature differences in the ocean.  This profiling float descended to a depth of over 1000 meters before resurfacing and turning the temperature difference between deep and surface water into electricity.

Dr. David Fratantoni (left) and Michael Zedelmair (right) were happy after a successful deployment and recovery operation sitting on deck of the vessel shown.  Seatrec’s SL1 energy harvesting system can potentially provide 100% of the power needed for a profiling float which are typically powered by batteries, a limitation which necessitates profiling dives coupled with low power consumptive sensor payloads.  The SL1 greatly enhances the capabilities of floats to enable longer lifetime, more frequent sampling, more sensor payloads, and elimination of battery waste when the profiler becomes derelict.

Photo: Cole Arrington

Working From My New Field Office For The Last

Working from my new “field office” for the last two weeks. I have made myself a cozy nook overlooking a scenic landscape of piles of books, blankets, and boxes. Rather than the occasional hallway chatter about someone’s cool new plot, I hear something even better – my “coworkers” watching “The Big Lebowski” in the next room. Or maybe its “Frozen;” I should listen more closely to figure this out. The fun never ends here with a continual parade of video calls, and I have rediscovered that awesome time-management software, Slack. Did it just notify me, again? I’d better check it! Walking across the “building” to get a coffee is so much easier here than at my on-campus office; oh wait, and is that the dryer buzzing? Sweet! I get to fold laundry! I better have a snack while I’m up, too. No more cheese or bread, so I guess I’m putting the leftover sweet potatoes on Frosted Mini Wheats, now. Okay, back to my field site, for a few more minutes. I’ve got this work-at-home thing down!

-  Mike Liemohn, University of Michigan

Talofa From Ofu Scientists From The Us

Talofa from Ofu!

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) are collecting data on Ofu, in the Manua Islands of American Samoa. The 3-year program aims to identify historical trends and current patterns of nutrient loading to NPSA’s Ofu reef flat pools and their impact on coral health.

Coral reefs in NPSA’s Ofu unit are highly diverse, containing more than 80 species of coral, several of which are listed in the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The corals have been recognized as being tolerant to thermal stress: daily temperatures in the pools frequently exceed the local coral bleaching threshold of 30°C. The corals growing in this unique ecosystem provide important insights into the potential for coral acclimatization and/or adaptation to future climate change.

However, Ofu’s pools are currently threatened by an outbreak of Valonia fastigiata algae. Recent surveys indicate that the outbreak covers>50% of the consolidated seafloor in many of Ofu’s pools, actively overgrowing healthy coral colonies. This overgrowth implies a significant shift in the local nutrient regime towards eutrophication that favors macroalgae proliferation.

Nutrient pollution via surface runoff has been a target for coral-reef conservation; however, nutrient loading to coastal waters from submarine groundwater discharge (SGD), the movement of water from land through the subsurface and into coastal waters, is increasingly recognized as an important vector for transporting nutrients into the coastal ocean. Elevated nutrient loads delivered by SGD may lead to eutrophication and algal blooms, thereby playing an important role in coral reef health. SGD is the dominant source of freshwater to Ofu’s pools, and thus a likely pathway for transporting nutrient loads to the coral reefs that may be driving the algae outbreak.

This photo shows a USGS-developed radon-measuring buoy that enables scientists to trace and volumetrically quantify SGD rates to the coral reefs. The goal is to constrain the SGD-associated nutrient loading, identify the patterns of impact in Ofu’s pools, and halt the continued addition of nutrients to the pools, thus leading to future management decisions to protect the ESA-listed corals.

-  Curt Storlazzi

Ahoy I Am Gakoa A Surface Mooring Measuring


I am GAKOA, a surface mooring measuring ocean acidification in the Gulf of Alaska.  I am cared for by the Ocean Acidification Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  During 2020, I will be collecting data for my tenth year!  

I am anchored at the mouth of Resurrection Bay, near Seward, Alaska.  My aunt, GAK1, is nearby and is entering her 50th year collecting data!  My sponsors are the Alaska Ocean Observing System, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Pacific Research Board, and State of Alaska.

Now that I have freshly calibrated sensors and new batteries, I am ready for spring!  

Fair winds and following seas,



Seneca Source And Impact Of Greenhouse Gasses In

SENECA - SourcE and impact of greeNhousE gasses in AntarctiCA

A team of scientists* from Italy, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland are collecting data in the Dry Valleys in Antarctica as part of a two-year programme to investigate the natural gas emissions in this part of the continent.

Current global climate changes represent a threat for the stability of the polar regions and may result in cascading broad impacts. Studies conducted on permafrost (ground that remains at below 0°C for two years or longer) in the Arctic regions indicate that these areas may store almost twice the carbon currently present in the atmosphere. Therefore, permafrost thawing may potentially cause a significant increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, compounding the global warming effect. Although several studies have been carried out in the Arctic regions, there is a paucity of data available from the Southern Hemisphere. The SENECA project aims to fill this gap and to provide a first estimate of gas concentrations and emissions from permafrost and/or thawed shallow strata of the Dry Valleys in Antarctica. The Taylor and Wright Valleys represent one of the few Antarctic areas that are not covered by ice. These vast regions display frozen soil that extends over ~3,000 Km2 forming one of the most extreme deserts on Earth representing an ideal target for permafrost surveys.

The SENECA team is now investigating targeted regions of the Dry Valleys conducting a multidisciplinary field expedition. The scientists will camp for 40 days in harsh conditions collecting and analysing soil gas and water samples, measuring CO2 and CH4 flux exhalation, investigating the petrological soil properties, and acquiring geoelectrical profiles. The data obtained will be used to 1) derive a first total emission estimate for methane and carbon dioxide in this region of the Southern Polar Hemisphere, 2) locate the potential presence of geological discontinuities that can act as preferential gas release pathways, and 3) investigate the mechanisms of gas migration through the shallow sediments. These results represent a benchmark for measurements in these climate sensitive regions where little or no data are currently available.

To know more about the SENECA project and the ongoing field activities, search the link:

*SENECA team: Livio Ruggiero, Alessandra Sciarra, Fabio Florindo, Massimiliano Ascani (INGV), Maria Chiara Tartarello, Valentina Romano (Univ. Sapienza), Adriano Mazzini (CEED-Univ.of Oslo), Claudio Mazzoli (Univ. Padova), Gary Wilson (GNS-Otago Univ.), Bob Dagg, Jacob Anderson, Richard Hardie (Otago Univ.), Rachel Worthington (Blake Ambassador).

Greetings From Underground We Are Members Of A

Greetings from underground!We are members of a project in Italy that study cosmic rays for personal research.This photo is from our recent trip to make a kind of muon tomography in an abandoned mine. Actually this was an “international” collaboration since we also had prof. A. Grana who teaches physics in Luxembourg as special guest.Muon tomography also known as MU-RAY is alike to radiography, with X rays you can see inside your body, with mu rays you can see inside the mountains.Muons are subatomic particles coming from high atmosphere and produced by cosmic rays. They constantly cross everything at any time and can penetrate for several hundred of meters into the soil. By placing a muon detector underground is possible to obtain an image showing portions of hills and mountains.Today this technique is very spread around the world to investigate several target, from volcanoes to pyramids, from glaciers bedrock to buried archeological treasures.Using simple cosmic rays detectors we are trying to bring this investigation method into schools for educational purpose…

Hola We Are The Planeteando Team Geoscientists


We are the Planeteando team: geoscientists by day and communicators by night. We are at the Mexican Geophysical Union Annual meeting in Puerto Vallarta where we not only attend to exciting talks related to our fields of interest, but we also do interviews, photo-stories and film activities to share with the world.

This is a project that has been boosted by the AGU centennial grant. If you want to know more, search for our content on YouTube, Instagram, twitter and on 


Hello From The Kiamichi River My Name Is Lauren

Hello from the Kiamichi River!  My name is Lauren Haygood and I am a geoscience graduate student at The University of Tulsa (TU) focusing in geochemistry!  My thesis field location is the Kiamichi River located in southeastern Oklahoma.  My lab group was hard at work conducting chemical tests of the Kiamichi River!  We also collected lots of sediment and river water samples!  We took all our samples back to the lab and have been analyzing our samples for heavy metals and paleoenvironmental indicators.  This photo is from one of our field sites on the Kiamichi River.  

We all had a ‘fanclastic’ time doing field work and are enjoying all the lab work!  

Lauren Haygood- Accelerated Master’s Student at TU

twitter: @La_U_Re_N

Tracking Triggers Of Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms

Tracking Triggers of Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms in an Urbanized Freshwater Estuary

Dear Everyone:

Nutrient-rich runoff from urban, agricultural, and industrial sources and the effects of climate warming are synergistically fueling the growth of harmful cyanobacterial blooms (cHABs) in water bodies across the world.  Globally, Microcystis is the most common genus of cHAB found in both tropical and temperate aquatic systems. Its distribution and abundance are steadily increasing in response to anthropogenic forcing, making its substantial environmental impacts, including toxin production, of great concern.  Water Resources graduate student, Jasmine Mancuso, is tracking the rise and fall of annually recurring cHABs in Muskegon Lake, an urbanized Great Lakes estuary in Muskegon, Michigan.  Jasmine is hoping to determine what conditions promote and terminate cHAB events in this drowned river-mouth ecosystem using a combination of weather and water quality data (including nutrients and algal pigments) from an automated high-frequency observing system, bi-weekly field sampling, and controlled nutrient bioassay experiments.  Understanding cHAB dynamics under variable conditions of land use and climate change is critical for maintaining the integrity of our freshwater resources.  Insights from this study should serve to inform better measures for prevention, control and mitigation of cHABs in similar systems everywhere.

Bopi Biddanda and Anthony Weinke

Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University, Muskegon, Michigan, USA.