Oceanographic Analysis, Assays, and Techniques

GSO seismologists advanced the science of detecting and analyzing pressure waves caused by earthquakes, landslides, and nuclear explosions through development of a novel modeling approach called full-wave seismic analysis. This method extracts much more information from these phenomena than captured by older, standard ray-tracing methods. GSO’s high-powered computer clusters allow detection of small seismic events often lost in the background of normal crustal vibrations.

GSO biological oceanographers address a range of ecological questions utilizing novel molecular methodologies to study population genetics, evolutionary biology, and trophic interactions. For example, molecular approaches are developed for examining the structure of phytoplankton communities resulting from dispersal, natural selection, and environmental influences, by identifying populations and the particular species or sub-species to which they belong. A recent breakthrough in the quantitative measurement of DNA from different prey species has led to a better description of the diets of copepods and krill, along with accurate estimates of in-situ feeding rate of zooplankton.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) are instruments designed to gather current direction and speed data at ocean depths. Their use on merchant vessels, research ships, autonomous surface vessels (ASVs), and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) is now ubiquitous. GSO physical oceanographers use data gathered from these instruments deployed from this wide range of platforms to describe ocean currents and water flow in systems from estuaries to the global ocean.

GSO meteorologists collect continuous data from Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) instruments to profile the wind direction and speed with height to characterize the wind field for renewable energy projects.

In a laboratory setting, GSO plankton biologists utilize a digital particle image velocimetry(DPIV) system to visualize and quantify fluid flow around microorganisms, and facilitate the study of predator-prey interactions.

Microbiologists at GSO study mechanisms and rates of material cycling by bacteria. They have addressed the challenge by improving the sensitivity of detection methods for bacterial biomass, activity, and genetic composition, in environments as disparate as the water column or in deeply buried marine sediments where extremely low bacterial activity is expected. Enzyme-based assays, source-tracking techniques, incorporation of labeled compounds and polymerase-chain reaction (PCR) methodologies are some approaches used to resolve issues preventing the field of marine microbial ecology to advance.

Passive sampler
Passive samplers are a convenient and inexpensive alternative to traditional air and water sampling methods. Credit Lohmann Lab.

Recent characterization of the dynamic spectral-polarized light field to explore biological camouflage in near-surface marine environments may lead to the identification of design principles for future naval camouflage.

Simple and inexpensive polyethylene passive samplers enable detection and determination of concentrations of dissolved organic pollutants. These samplers prove particularly suitable for monitoring polar compounds along wide coastal expanses and for verification of compliance to safeguard human health and the environment.