ANAMAR News

Stay up to date with our latest news.
Jan
30

Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point: Army's Primary East Coast Deepwater Port

Many of us probably don’t think about the importance of dredging in relation to national security and maintaining access to our military bases and terminals.  Maintaining access to navigation basins, access channels, and berthing areas is a critical component in our nation’s ability to accomplish its military and national security mission.  When these waterways and berthing areas become shoaled, the immediate capacity of a facility or base to transport materials and personnel is reduced or delays are incurred until full project capabilities are restored through dredging. 

ANAMAR recently sampled and tested dredge material at the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU), which is one of the largest military terminals in the world.  It is a high-security facility that is constantly patrolled by boats with armed soldiers.  And for good reason—MOTSU is the key ammunition shipping point on the Atlantic coast for the Department of Defense and is the Army's primary east coast deepwater port.  As the world's largest military terminal, Sunny Point ships more explosive cargo and equipment to the nation's armed forces and allies than any other facility.  The mission of the facility is to be prepared to quickly and effectively support the U.S. military and allies through the shipment of munitions, ordnance, or other military materials in response to any global situation or military requirement.  The maintenance of navigation depth at MOTSU is a prerequisite to maintaining a high state of operational preparedness at the facility.

Built in 1951, the terminal serves as a transfer point between rail cars, trucks, and ships during the import or export of weapons, ammunition, explosives, tanks, and military equipment for the U.S. Army.  MOTSU sprawls across 8,600 acres on the west side of the Cape Fear River, near the towns of Boiling Spring Lakes and Southport.  A vast majority of MOTSU’s real estate is longleaf and loblolly pine forest, which provides a barrier between shipping operations and the general public.  To prevent harm to the surrounding community, there is a 2,100-acre buffer zone on Pleasure Island (Carolina, Kure, Wilmington, and Fort Fisher beaches) and a 4,300-acre buffer in Brunswick County.  Despite its isolation, Sunny Point is an impressive facility.  Its three huge docks can handle several ships simultaneously.  Large cranes and 62 miles of tracks within the terminal move military supplies and explosive cargo.  The two most controversial cargoes shipped through the terminal were World War II nerve gas in 1970 and European spent nuclear fuel rods in 1994.

Sources:

Mims, Bryan.  2015.  Secrets of Sunny Point.  Our State Magazine.  May 26, 2015.  https://www.ourstate.com/military-ocean-terminal-sunny-point/.  Accessed 01/02/18.

Wikipedia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Ocean_Terminal_Sunny_Point  Accessed 01/29/18.

Continue reading
  2416 Hits
0 Comments
2416 Hits
  0 Comments
Sep
01

What can fossils tell us about the rock surrounding them? Fossil scallops in the Coquille River as a case study

During a benthic survey off the Coquille River, Oregon, in September 2013, ANAMAR was collecting samples of epifauna using a 12-foot otter trawl when suddenly the gear encountered unidentified rock.  The trawl net snagged and the cable instantly snapped, losing the gear on the seafloor in about 45 feet of water.  Although many attempts were made to recover the trawl using a grapple hook off the deck of the survey vessel (R/V Pacific Storm), the gear was too entangled on the seafloor to be brought up with that method.  Directly following completion of the benthic survey, an ANAMAR subcontractor returned to the site and recovered the trawl gear using SCUBA divers.  The trawl was still in good shape and the remaining trawl tows were completed for the survey.  In addition to finding the trawl gear, the divers also observed several fossil scallop shells embedded in the rock on the seafloor.  The fossil scallops were in excellent condition (see images below).  The divers were able to pry a few of the fossil shells loose for closer inspection and photography.

Fossil Scallops Coquille Pic1

Because the area where the survey took place is an ocean dredged material disposal site (ODMDS), information on the naturally occurring rocks found there is of interest to agencies tasked with managing the site (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).  For this reason, and also out of personal interest, I began collaborating with paleontologists to determine the identity of the fossil scallops in the hopes of learning more about the rock they were found in.  I soon found my answer after contacting specialists at the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle, Washington.  Dr. Elizabeth Nesbitt, Curator of Paleontology, graciously identified the fossil scallops as either Patinopecten coosensis or P. oregonensis based on photos I sent her.  The flared portions of the shell adjacent to the hinge (called auricles) serve as key characteristics differentiating these two species.  These fossils lacked auricles so they could not be identified beyond these two species.  However, based on the fossils and the associated matrix, Dr. Nesbitt was able to identify the rock formation the fossils were found in!

The rocks and fossils are part of the Empire Formation which is better known from exposures about 20 miles south of the Coquille River, at Cape Blanco, Oregon.  The Empire Formation, composed mostly of sandstone, along with the fossils it contains, are as old as 12 million years (Miocene) but it is theorized to be closer to 8 to 5 million years (Miocene-Pliocene epoch boundary).  Since we know the identity of the rock as being part of the Empire Formation, we therefore know something about its composition.  In this case, the rocks that snagged the trawl gear must have been composed of sandstone and some siltstone.  This formation represents sands deposited in what was then a small marine basin, which now is only represented by Coos Bay.  It is probable that other rocks within the ODMDS are also fossiliferous sandstone/siltstone from the Empire Formation.

The above is an example of how fossils can help us infer the identity of the surrounding substrate.  In this case, the identity of the fossil scallops, along with the matrix attached to the fossils, were used to pinpoint the exact formation they represent.  Knowing the formation, we then were able to learn more about the composition and approximate geological age of surrounding rocks that represent the same formation.  All this information came from observing and collecting a handful of fossils incidental to recovering of some equipment from the seafloor!

Interestingly, the French word for scallop is Coquille.  Thus, the Coquille River, where the fossils were collected, was actually named after a scallop!

Sources:

Ehlen, J.  1967.  Geology of state parks near Cape Arago, Coos County, Oregon.  The Ore Bin 29(4):61–82. 

Nesbitt, E.  Department of Paleontology, Burke Museum of Natural History, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.  Pers. comm. 12/06/13.

Portell, R.W.  Department of Invertebrate Paleontology, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.  Pers. comm. 11/18/13.

Continue reading
  171 Hits
0 Comments
171 Hits
  0 Comments
Mar
06

What fossil animal remains are in the sediment at Charleston Harbor and what can they tell us about the age of the sediment?

charlestonphoto1

Harbor sediment is often subjected to physical, chemical, toxicological, and bioaccumulation analyses as part of dredging projects that keep our harbors navigable; however, the fossils in the sediment often go unnoticed and unappreciated during such testing.  What can the fossil remains—the critters that once inhabited the area—tell us about the age and history of the sediment?  An ANAMAR biologist set out to learn just that, by sieving about 5 gallons of extra material from a recent sediment sampling event at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

The sample was collected with a vibracore sampler at the area of Mount Pleasant Range and Benice Reach.  The matrix was a mixture of shells, sand, silt, and clay.  The particles smaller than the 2-mm mesh size screen were washed away during the sieving process.  The remaining shells and other hard objects were left to dry over a few week’s time.  The remains were then identified and photographed. 

So what was found?

The sample contained:

  • Crustacean remains
    • Crab and shrimp claws
    • Barnacle shells
  • Echinoid (sea urchin) spines
  • Mollusk shells
    • Ark shells of the order Arcoida
    • Limpets of the genus Diodora sp.
    • Many other gastropod and bivalve shells
  • Shark teeth
    • Hemipristis serra (extinct snaggletooth shark)
    • Physogaleus (Galeocerdo) contortus (extinct tiger shark)
    • Galeocerdo cuvier (modern [extant] tiger shark)
    • Hundreds of small teeth from other carcharhinids (requiem sharks)
  • Shark vertebrae
  • Ray teeth
    • Dasyatis sp. or Himantura sp. (stingrays)
    • Rhinopteridae and/or Myliobatidae (cownose rays, eagle rays)
    • cf. Paramobula fragilis and cf. Plinthicus stenodon (extinct devil rays)
  • Bony fish remains:
    • Otoliths (ear bones)
    • Teeth from Sphyraena sp. (barracuda)
  • Undetermined bone fragments
  • Apatite (a phosphate-containing mineral)

charlestonphoto3

 

Estimating the age of the sediment based on fossil remains

The snaggletooth shark Hemipristis serra occurred during the Pleistocene (12,000 to 2.6 million years ago) to the Eocene (34 million to 56 million years ago) and its fossil remains indicate warm, well-oxygenated marine conditions back then (Cappetta 1987).  The extinct tiger shark Physogaleus (Galeocerdo) contortus occurred during the Miocene (5 million to 23 million years ago) (possibly also during the Eocene) and is a characteristic fossil of the Southeastern Coastal Plain (Cappetta 1987).  The devil ray teeth were damaged but appeared to resemble the extinct species Paramobula fragilis of the Oligocene epoch (23 to 34 million years ago) and Plinthicus stenodon of the Miocene (Cappetta 1987, www.elasmo.com).

Charleston2

The tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier and many other requiem shark species are still around today.  The stingray genera Dasyatis and Himantura, the eagle rays, and the cownose rays are also still around today, although the stingray genus Himantura is now absent from the western North Atlantic.  Similarly, the barracuda genus Sphyraena is still around today including four modern species inhabiting the western North Atlantic (Robins and Ray 1986).

charlestonphoto5

Identification of the invertebrate remains was not yet attempted to the lowest practical taxonomic level, but they appeared to range in age from the Holocene (recent) to the Pleistocene (12,000 to 2.6 million years ago) based on initial observations. 

Based on the shark and ray fauna represented by fossils, the sediment taken from Charleston Harbor probably dates back to the Miocene.  Given that some fish and invertebrate remains may be modern, the sediment probably also includes relatively recently deposited material.  The fact that multiple geological epochs appear to be represented in the sediment is typical for fluvial (riverine) deposits such as in Charleston Harbor.  In addition to the fossil remains, the mineral apatite, containing phosphate, was found as smooth spherical black stones.  Mineral identification was made by W.G. Harris (pers. comm.).

 charlestonphoto6

Sources Cited:

Cappetta, H.  1987.  Handbook of Paleoichthyology, Chondricththyes II. Mesozoic and Cenozoic Elasmobranchii.  Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.

Harris, W.G.  2013.  Professor of Soil Mineralogy, Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Pers. Comm.

Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray.  1986.  A Field Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes. North America.  Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY.

Continue reading
  149 Hits
0 Comments
149 Hits
  0 Comments
Dec
12

What kinds of animal remains contribute to the sediment of deep continental slope waters off southeastern Florida?

What types of invertebrates can be identified from the remains contributing to the sediment in continental slope waters?  An ANAMAR biologist set out to learn just what groups of invertebrates could be identified from sediment collected in the deep waters off Port Everglades Harbor, Florida.  The sample was collected using a custom-made bucket sampler that was towed a short distance across the sediment surface in 664 feet of water off Port Everglades Harbor (Fort Lauderdale), Florida. 

About 2 gallons of the sediment was sieved through a 2-mm screen.  An additional 15 ounces of the sediment was wet-sieved with a 0.8-mm fine-mesh screen to uncover the remains of smaller invertebrates.  The sample matrix was mostly greenish-gray silty fine sand, most of which was washed away during the sieving process.  The remaining shells and other hard objects were left to dry over a few week’s time.  The remains were then identified and photographed. 

southeasternflphoto1

So what was found?

The sample contained:

  • Foraminiferidas (commonly called foraminifera or forams)
  • Mollusks
    • Bivalves
    • Sea butterflies of the order Thecosomata (previously of Pteropoda)
    • Other gastropods
  • Crustacean (crab and shrimp) remains
  • Echinoid (sea urchin) spines and tests

southeastflphoto2

Are any of these remains fossilized? 

All of the shells and other remains appeared to be of Holocene age (modern).  Thus, none of the remains represent fossils.  Based on the age of the animal remains, it appears that the sediment surface is mostly recently deposited material.  However, the silt component of the sediment sample may have been older than the shell component of the sample.

Continue reading
  119 Hits
0 Comments
119 Hits
  0 Comments
Dec
01

What animals can be found in the sediment at Canaveral Harbor, and what can they tell us about the age of the sediment?

canaveral sed photo 1

Although harbor sediment is often subjected to physical, chemical, toxicological, and bioaccumulation analyses, the biological properties often go unnoticed and unappreciated during such testing.  What can the biological properties—the critters inhabiting the sediment—tell us about the age and history of the sediment?  An ANAMAR biologist set out to learn just that, by sieving extra material from a recent sediment sampling event at Canaveral Harbor, Florida.

About 12 gallons of extra sediment sampled from Canaveral Harbor, Florida, was wet sieved with a 2-mm screen to uncover modern and fossil animal remains.  The sample matrix was mostly gray-green colored clay which was washed away during the sieving process.  The remaining shell hash component left in the sieve showed that it contained at least the remains of mollusks.  The shells and other hard objects were left to dry over a few week’s time.  The remains were then identified and photographed.

 

So what was found?

The sample contained:

  • Crustacean (crab and shrimp) claws including the purse crab genus Persephona
  • Barnacle shells
  • Echinoid (sea urchin) spines and other remains
  • Mollusk shells
    • Ark shells of the order Arcoida
    • Tusk shells including the genus Dentalium
    • Wentletraps including Epitonium cf. rupicola
    • The limpet Diodora cf. floridana
    • The land snail Polygyra septemvolva (Florida flatcoil)
  • Fish remains
    • A tooth from Carcharhinus isodon (finetooth shark)
    • Vertebrae from teleost (bony) fishes
    • A pectoral spine from the sea catfish family Ariidae

canaveral sed photo2

Are any of these remains fossilized? 

It is not always easy to differentiate a fossil from the remains of modern animals, especially when considering the remains of mollusks having calcium carbonate shells.  However, we can say with certainty that the limpet shell is a fossil because the species Diodora floridana lived only during the Pleistocene (it has been extinct for thousands of years [Peterson and Peterson 2008]).  The Florida flatcoil shells may also represent fossils as they appeared to contain consolidated mineralized material filling the internal voids, and were a much darker than modern shells of this species.  The finetooth shark tooth also represents a fossil although this species still occurs around Florida today.  Most shark teeth found in sediment or on the ground are fossils because, although sharks are abundant in today’s oceans and they continually lose and replace teeth throughout their lives, it takes a build-up of teeth over thousands or millions of years for them to be numerous enough to be easily found. 

Most of the remaining shells are Holocene in age (modern).  Overall, the shells within the sediment range in age from Holocene (recent) to the Pleistocene (12,000 to 2.6 million years ago), based on the taxonomy of the animal remains.  The presence of the land snail Polygyra septemvolva among the remains of the marine animals suggests that the sediment had been mixed with other deposits originating from terrestrial sources.

canaveral sed photo3

Source Cited:

Peterson, C. and B. Peterson.  2008.  Southern Florida’s Fossil Seashells.  Blue Note Publications, Inc., Cocoa Beach, FL.

Continue reading
  150 Hits
0 Comments
150 Hits
  0 Comments
May
02

Important differences between FDA action levels given in the SERIM and those given by FDA

FULL WRITE-UP:

Action levels provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are used as screening benchmarks during Tier III testing evaluations under Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA).  These action levels are based on human health and economic considerations and represent limits above which the FDA can take legal action to remove products from the marketplace (EPA and USACE 1991, known as the ‘Green Book’).  The Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (EPA and USACE 2008, known as the ‘SERIM’) provides guidance for MPRSA Section 103 testing evaluations in the southeastern United States.  Some discrepancies exist between the action levels provided by the FDA and those given in the SERIM.  The table below compares action levels between the SERIM, the source document to the SERIM (FDA 2001), and the most current FDA action levels (FDA 2011).

The action level presented in the SERIM for cadmium in bivalve tissue is switched with that of crustacea (see table above).  The SERIM applies the crustacea action levels to include polychaete worms as the FDA lacks any action levels intended for polychates.  The action levels given in the SERIM for mercury are intended for use specifically for methylmercury (FDA 2001 and 2011) rather than for total mercury.

The SERIM (Section 3.3.2.2 [page 24]) and the Green Book (Section 6.3 [not paginated]) suggest the reader use an updated version of the FDA action levels when available.  FDA action levels have been updated since the SERIM was published in 2008 and, therefore, it is useful to refer to FDA (2011) for some or all action levels rather than Appendix H of the SERIM.  However, since FDA (2011) omits arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and nickel, the values given in FDA (2001) may, with the approval of USACE, continue to be used as screening benchmarks for these metals in Tier III evaluations.

Sources Cited Above:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  1991.  Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean Disposal, Testing Manual [Green Book].  EPA 503-8-91-001.  EPA, Office of Marine and Estuarine Protection and Department of the Army, USACE, Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  2008.  Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM), Requirements and Procedures for Evaluation of the Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in Southeast U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast Waters.  EPA Region 4, Atlanta, GA, and USACE South Atlantic Division, Atlanta, GA.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  2001.  Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance, Third Edition — June 2001 [online document].  Accessed 02/25/11 online at:  http://www.fda.gov/Food/‌GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/Seafood/FishandFisheriesProductsHazardsandControlsGuide/default.htm.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  2011.  Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance, Fourth Edition — April 2011 [online document].  Accessed 01/09/12 online at:  http://www.fda.gov/Food/‌GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/Seafood/FishandFisheriesProductsHazardsandControlsGuide/default.htm.

Continue reading
  125 Hits
0 Comments
125 Hits
  0 Comments

©2006-2016 ANAMAR Environmental Consulting, Inc. | Web design & hosting provided by Blu Dove Designs

Gainesville, FL (352) 377-5770
Portland, OR (503) 220-1641
Fax: (352) 378-7620 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.