Understanding water quality with the Environmental Sample Processor

Water pollution can easily spread and effect areas far from its initiation point. This behavior makes tracking the source time-consuming and expensive because samples collected from different areas of a watershed must be returned to the laboratory. Thus, water-quality monitoring is a problem perfect for application of ESP technology.

Clean beaches in Southern California: 

Research Specialist Kevan Yamahara holds the portable ESP. Photo © MBARI.

Monitoring the water quality of local beaches is crucial for keeping beachgoers safe. If a beach is found to be polluted with indicators of sewage, a complicated series of sampling, lab analysis, and re-sampling must occur to pinpoint the source of the contamination. Tracking these points of contamination is made easier with a portable device that utilizes ESP technology. MBARI collaborated with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCRP) to develop a portable sample-processing instrument that allows workers to process water samples in the field rather than bring them back to the lab. This allows more complicated procedures to begin immediately upon returning to the lab, thus more quickly providing results.

Read more about the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project at their website.

Foretelling oil spills in Norway

Naturally occurring microbes often serve as indicators when something has happened in their environment. In Norway, resource managers are interested in monitoring microbial populations to know if and when oil is leaking from decommissioned subsea oil wells. Some microbes specialize in eating hydrocarbons (i.e. oil), so watching their population grow or shrink may be a highly sensitive indicator of whether oil could be present. This work is funded by the International Research Institute of Stavangar, and we have deployed two lab-based ESPs in some preliminary work to identify which microbes might be the best indicators of oil in the water.

Read more about using microbes as oil spill indicators at the International Research Institue of Stavangar’s website.

Detecting agricultural contamination in New Zealand

A 2G ESP being deployed into the waters of Tasman Bay, New Zealand.

New Zealand has strong ranching (cattle, sheep) and aquaculture (various shellfish) operations, but river and rain runoff from pastures can contaminate shellfisheries. To test the efficacy of the ESP at detecting fecal runoff in aquaculture farms, we collaborated with the Cawthron Institute in Nelson by deploying an ESP in a shellfish farm near the mouth of the Motueka river. Using the ESP, researchers were able to identity large amounts of fecal bacteria within the river, but during the deployment, due to the lack of rain, the aquaculture areas remained relatively free of contamination.

Read more about the New Zealand deployment of an ESP here.

Science

Upper-ocean systems
Acoustical ocean ecology
Acoustic instruments
Acoustic fingerprinting
Acoustic community ecology
Acoustics in the news
Biological oceanography
Global modes of sea surface temperature
Nitrate supply estimates in upwelling systems
Chemical sensors
Chemical data
Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory in Elkhorn Slough
Listing of floats
SOCCOM float visualization
Periodic table of elements in the ocean
Biogeochemical-Argo Report
Profiling float
Marine microbes
Population dynamics of phytoplankton
Microbial predators
Microbe-algae interactions
Targeted metagenomics
In the news
Upcoming events and lab news
Past talks and presentations
Join the lab
Resources
Molecular ecology
Molecular systematics
SIMZ Project
Bone-eating worms
Gene flow and dispersal
Molecular-ecology expeditions
Interdisciplinary field experiments
Ecogenomic Sensing
Genomic sensors
Field experiments
Harmful algal blooms (HABs)
Water quality
Environmental Sample Processor
ESP Web Portal
In the news
Ocean observing system
Midwater research
Midwater ecology
Deep-sea squids and octopuses
Food web dynamics
Midwater time series
Respiration studies
Zooplankton biodiversity
Seafloor processes
Biology and ecology
Effects of humans
Ocean acidification, warming, deoxygenation
Lost shipping container study
Effects of upwelling
Faunal patterns
Past research
Technology development
High-CO2 / low-pH ocean
Benthic respirometer system
Climate change in extreme environments
Monitoring instrumentation suite
Sargasso Sea research
Antarctic research
Long-term time series
Geological changes
Arctic Shelf Edge
Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics
Coordinated Canyon Experiment
Monterey Canyon: Stunning deep-sea topography revealed
Ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases
Emerging science of a high CO2/low pH ocean
Submarine volcanoes
Mid-ocean ridges
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Hydrothermal systems
Back arc spreading ridges
Seamounts
Near-ridge seamounts
Continental margin seamounts
Non-hot-spot linear chains
Eclectic seamounts topics
Margin processes
Hydrates and seeps
California borderland
Hot spot research
Hot-spot plumes
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Landslides
Volcanic hazards
Hydrothermal systems
Flexural arch
Coral reefs
ReefGrow software
Biogeography
Eclectic topics
Submarine volcanism cruises
Volcanoes resources
Areas of study
Biology
Microscopic biology research
Open ocean biology research
Seafloor biology research
Chemistry
Automated chemical sensors
Methane in the seafloor
Geology
Volcanoes and seamounts
Hydrothermal vents
Methane in the seafloor
Submarine canyons
Earthquakes and landslides
Ocean acidification
Physical oceanography and climate change
Ocean circulation and algal blooms
Ocean cycles and climate change
Research publications
Publications

Bowers, H.A., Marin, R.III, Birch, J.A., Scholin, C.A., and Doucette, G.J. (2016). Recovery and identification of Pseudo-nitzschia frustlules from natural samples acquired using the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP). Journal of Phycology, 52:135–140. http://doi.org/10.1111/jpy.12369

Herfort, L., Seaton, C., Wilkin, M., Roman, B., Preston, C., Marin, R., Seitz, K., Smith, M., Haynes, V., Scholin, C., Baptista, A., Simon, H. (2016). Use of continuous, real-time observations and model simulations to achieve autonomous, adaptive sampling of microbial processes with a robotic sampler.  Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, 14:50-67. http://doi.org/10.1002/lom3.10069

Full publications list