By Allison Dahl
From May 7, 2018
Six students and I were lucky enough to start our adventure in the Soufrière Bay collecting sediment samples with Dr. Gregg Brooks and Bekka Larson, geologists from Eckerd College. We learned how to collect core samples using special cylindrical gear that allowed us to examine the layers of sediment. Recently a large sand spill occurred in the area and researchers want to find out where the extra sediment has gone and how it is affecting the nearby reefs. Our four core samples will provide information on the elements and chemicals present in each layer and will give insight to the age of each layer. That afternoon the cores were extruded. Extrusion is a process used to create objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile. A material is pushed through the cylinder until the desired cross-section is exposed, like a push-pop. Two of our sediment samples were extruded 5 millimeters at a time and separated into plastic bags for further analysis. The other two were cut open to see if any visible changes or layers could be seen. With these results and other projects that will be conducted over the next two weeks we will be able to see the impact the city of Soufrière has on its local reefs.
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. In 2019, the course went to the Carmabi research station in Curaçao and dived around the island over a 10-day period, for training and to carry out research projects. In 2018, the group went to Soufriere, Saint Lucia, and took part in various projects in partnership with the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.