Walk the Line, P: The Plan

by Sara Zeidan

Peristaltic pumps, columns and filtrate collecting jugs used to process seawater samples for subsequent radiocesium activity determination using gamma spectrometry.

In a few days I will joining the Line P cruise and be among many bright scientists from universities and government agencies. Line P is an oceanographic survey that has been conducted for over 50 years and its route is perpendicular to the coast of British Columbia, stretching 1,500 km into the Pacific Ocean.  Line P is conducted three times a year where various arrays of chemical, physical and biological research take place by scientists from all around.

I am currently studying at the University of Ottawa and will be entering my third year in Environmental Sciences with a specialization in Ecotoxicology and Geochemistry. I aspire to become a chemical oceanographer and you can probably guess that this opportunity has me jumping on my feet. The chance to work with professionals in the field, while being stranded in the middle of the ocean and conducting oceanographic research is something I never would have imagined happen to me during my early years of study. I really must thank my supervisor, Dr. Jack Cornett, who has been so eager to give me this opportunity.

Close up of the column that contains the resin. The resin is particularly sticky to cesium, trapping ~95% of all cesium ions that pass through it.
Close up of the column that contains the resin. The resin is particularly sticky to cesium, trapping ~95% of all cesium ions that pass through it.

This survey will be around 17 days long and there are a number of tasks I hope to achieve throughout my time. Firstly, I will be assisting Richard Nelson in collecting 60L of seawater along the stations and filtering this sea water through a resin. These resins will help collect Cesium, including the ruminants from the Fukushima incident, and there we will analyze the amounts and distribution of these radionuclides throughout the northeast Pacific Ocean. I will also be filtering my own samples at a few stations, using the same protocol but with a slightly different resin. This will allow us to do an intercomparison between these two protocols and help us determine which of the two is the most efficient. At stations with depth profiles, I will be collecting 2L water samples at certain depths and send them back to our lab in Ottawa. We will use these samples to analyze the concentrations of certain radionuclides, such as Uranium, and observe their trends at various depths. I will also be collecting plankton samples at certain stations to analyze the presence of radionuclide within these organisms and how these radionuclides vary throughout Line P.

Lastly, I hope to gain an abundant amount of knowledge and experience from my watch shifts, observing others research projects and living at sea. I hope to make some great new friends, memories and form some sea legs (never been at sea before!).

Other posts from Line P in 2016: The Plan, Out to Sea, Big Blue, Day in the Life, Inspiration

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