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Exploring the Gulf of Mexico with Dr. Sheli: Day Four, Out in the Gulf Again


It’s a good day out on the Gulf again and although the weather is still overcast and the temperature cool (about 59° F/ 15° C) the seas are very calm. We can even see Portuguese Man-O-Wars off the side of the ship.

Today we looked at a small wooden vessel, known as the Mica wreck.  The wreck lays low on the seafloor with out much relief.  The wreck is 62ft/19m long and only about 20ft/6m wide.  The hull that is still visible is sheathed in copper.  Does anybody know why?  We could still see where the rudder hooked onto the stern post and it appears that the top of the rudder head lays just astern of the ship in the sediment.  I can’t wait to share some of the images with you as we process them.  

But in the meantime — we recovered a small piece of copper sheathing for analysis.  We all got to study it and take samples.  Here are some of the pictures. We sampled the bio-film, the mud, corrosion fragments and the copper sheathing itself.  You can see everyone got involved.

Dr. Yoko Furukawa

Dr. Yoko is from the Naval Research Lab (NRL) and she has joined this research cruise to study the chemical makeup of the seafloor sediments around the shipwrecks.  Each day we load up the push cores on the ROV and on the seafloor, a location is chosen and 7 cores are taken of the sediment.  Once on the surface the cores are processed in the wet lab.  Some are saved intact while others are saved in slices.  All of the sediment samples will be cataloged and taken back to the lab to be fully analyzed.

 Dr. Yoko has a passion for sediment geochemistry, in short she “loves mud.”  She specifically is interested in studying the effects of sediment washing down the rivers of North America such as the Ohio and the Missouri into the Mississippi and finally into the Gulf of Mexico.  She is looking for the effects of agricultural soils and forest soils on the health of the Gulf.  For example, hypoxia may be linked to agricultural soils that have washed south into the Gulf waters and she is busying studying the seabed sediments to find out.

 Although, Dr. Yoko works all over the world the majority of her work is near home in Slidell, Louisiana, working on the Mississippi and Pearl Rivers.  She lives in Slidell with her husband, who also works at NRL, and her two kids.  Her son is attending LSU and majoring in Finance while her daughter attends the local high school as a sophomore.  Dr. Yoko grew up in Tokyo and attended Waseda University where she got her Baccalaureate degree in Minerals Resources Engineering.  Liking the minerals better than the engineering she went on to attend graduate school at Penn State University where she received her doctorate in Geosciences.

 Check out the pictures of Dr. Yoko working with the soil samples brought up from the Mica Wreck.


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