Fieldwork Prep

Fieldwork Prep

By Trista McKenzie

This last week I have been mostly preparing for fieldwork in Sydney. This includes not only preparing and packing supplies for fieldwork, but also discussing the sampling plan with everyone that will be joining and assisting in the field.

My project looks at how perigean spring tides (also called king tides) influence groundwater and wastewater discharge to Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay. King tides are the highest tides of the year and may be our best field-based proxy for understanding how sea level rise will impact coastlines. I am specifically interested in the impact on coastal wastewater infrastructure such as sewer pipes, and onsite sewage disposal systems (such as septic tanks and cesspools), and if groundwater is a major carrier of wastewater to the coast. To achieve this, we are planning on visiting different beaches and taking water samples along transects perpendicular to the beach as well as digging wells on the beach to sample for groundwater. Several things we will be sampling for include pharmaceuticals (wastewater tracer), radium (groundwater tracer), and dissolved nutrients.

In addition to preparing and packing supplies for fieldwork, such as pre-washing and combusting the bottles for pharmaceuticals, or weighing out fibers impregnated with manganese for radium analysis, we have also been discussing the sampling plan, who will do what in the field, and how the data will be used. We have a large group going down to Sydney, including Isaac, one of his PhD students (James Tucker), a lab/field technician (Ceylena Holloway), a visiting professor from Japan on sabbatical (Ryo Sugimoto), and two of his students who will be flying into Sydney from Japan to help. Ryo will be sampling concurrently for his own research alongside my project, which means an additional international collaboration within my international collaboration!

Prepping sample bottles by first rinsing them with DI water and then methanol.

As an aside, one of the cool things about being at a smaller research center is that I am also getting exposed to other disciplines, such as marine biology. For instance, this week I had the opportunity to help release mangrove jacks back into the ocean, which was a really cool experience to partake in, and not one I would easily have at my home institution.

Outside of work, I am making sure I get out on the weekends to explore a bit - I’ve been hiking, camping, checking out the wildlife, and I am padding outrigger canoe with some of the people who work at the National Marine Science Centre!

Kangaroos at the Look At Me Now Headlands.
View of Coffs Harbour from Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve.
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