Other ID: none
Organization(s): USGS, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Location: Chincoteague Bay, Maryland, United States, North America, North Atlantic;
Principal Investigator(s): John Bratton
Affiliate Investigator(s): David Krantz, Univ. of Toledo
Information Specialist(s): John Bratton
Data Type(s): Electro-Magnetic: Magnetics, Imagery: Photo, Sampling: Chemistry, Location-Elevation: Navigation
Scientific Purpose/Goals: Study of submarine ground water including borehole geophysics, porewater squeezing, sediment sampling and groundwater sampling.
Start Date: 2003-08-14
Start Port/Location: Public Landing, MD
End Date: 2003-08-22
End Port/Location: Public Landing, MD
Equipment Used: Downhole gamma and EM induction tools, data logger, Digital camera, Water sampler, Garmin GPS 76
Information to be Derived:
Summary of Activity and Data Gathered: On August 14-22 a USGS-led team undertook a complex subsurface field effort to study the occurrence and chemistry of submarine ground water beneath Chincoteague Bay, Maryland as a follow-up to earlier surface geophysical studies. The area was made famous by Marguerite Henry's 1947 children's book (and later Disney movie), Misty of Chincoteague, about the wild ponies that live on the adjacent barrier islands, Chincoteague and Assateague. Chincoteague Bay is experiencing nutrient over-enrichment that is of concern to its primary managers, the National Park Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Submarine discharge of ground water recharged in agricultural areas on land is suspected to be a major contributor of nitrogen to the bay. Offshore work consisting of drilling, geophysical logging, and sampling was performed from a barge platform, and was augmented with onshore logging of existing wells. The maximum drilling depth reached by the barge rig was 72 feet beneath the sediment surface. The field team included John Bratton, Sarah Kelsey, and Dirk Koopmans (USGS-GD-Woods Hole and contractors); David Krantz and Abby Norton (University of Toledo); John Earle (USGS-WRD-Denver); and J.K. Bohlke and Craig Tobias (USGS-WRD-Reston). Drilling contractors from Hillis-Carnes Engineering and a barge/tug pilot provided by Hi-Tide Marine Construction consistently overcame difficult mechanical, geological, and meteorological conditions to get the science done. Special thanks go out to National Park Service colleagues from Assateague Island National Seashore, Brian Sturgis and Carl Zimmerman, who provided logistical support, shuttle boats, and lodging. The fieldwork was conducted safely and efficiently and produced excellent scientific results. Noteworthy discoveries included the presence of a plume of fully fresh ground water greater than 25 feet thick extending more than .5 mile offshore along the western side of the bay (Public Landing), a similar plume at the northern end of the bay (South Point), hypersaline brines underlying part of Assateague Island, and a widespread buried peat present at the base of the bay's Holocene sediments. Downhole gamma and electromagnetic induction logs were obtained from eight locations. Ground water samples were collected from nine temporary subestuarine wells, surface water was obtained from eight locations, and pore water was squeezed from 35 sediment samples. Additional analyses for age dating, nutrients, and stable isotopes will be performed over the coming months.
Staff: John Bratton, Dirk Koopmans, Sarah Kelsey
Notes: Contact for barge: Denny Sharpe, 410-632-1426; Drill rig contact: Brian Siwinski, 410-880-4788; Hillis-Carnes Engineering; drillers = Mark Stawas and Kyle Plowman. Original Center People field contained: John Bratton, principal investigator, 8/13-8/22; Sarah Kelsey, mobilize, in field 8/13-8/15; Dirk Koopmans, in field, demobilize 8/20-8/22.
Bratton, J.F., 2007, The importance of shallow confining units to submarine groundwater flow, in Sanford, W., Langevin, C., Polemio, M., and Povinec, P., eds., A New Focus on Groundwater-Seawater Interactions: International Association of Hydrological Sciences, v. 312.
Bratton, J.F., 2010, The three scales of submarine groundwater flow and discharge across passive continental margins: The Journal of Geology, v. 118 no. 5, doi: 10.1086/655114.
Bratton, J.F., Bohlke, John Karl, Krantz, David E., and Tobias, Craig R., 2009, Flow and geochemistry of groundwater beneath a back-barrier lagoon; the subterranean estuary at Chincoteague Bay, Maryland, USA: Marine Chemistry, v. 113 no. 1-2, doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2009.01.004.