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Joe Capping Tubes

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Cape Abilities worker Joe Sattler tapes caps onto archived sample tubes whose caps had fallen off. This is one of the several jobs Cape Abilities workers perform in the Coastal Research Lab. (Nick Waldo)

Laboratory Assistants

     In October 2013 the partnership started having Cape Abillities work crews assist with various tasks in the Coastal Research Lab. This project involves having Cape Abilities workers work with scientific samples for the first time. Work crews worked with the project manager to extract sediment from cores taken in the field, then dry and powder the sediment. This sediment is carefully weighed before being passed on to WHOI scientists working in the Coastal Systems Group.

     The Coastal Systems Group uses gamma radiation to identify the isotope composition of the sediment grains. This data can be used to determine how long ago the sediment was deposited. Jeff Donnelly and his colleagues compare those ages to the size of sand and silt grains and the dates of historic storms to determine what size of historic hurricanes it takes to create certain storm deposits. This information can then be used to determine frequency of pre-historic hurricanes, which can be used to better establish correlations between climate and hurricane frequency and intensity, which is invaluable information in planning for the future. 

Because elemental content is being measured, the Cape Abilities work crews have to pay attention to contamination of the samples, and great care is taken to prevent even a single particle of sediment being transported into the wrong sample. Best laboratory practices are followed and all containers and tools must be washed with deionized water between samples.

Cape Abilities workers also perform other tasks as needed around the lab, such as re-taping the caps onto archived samples that have fallen into disrepair. 

Last updated: January 16, 2014

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