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Aqua Survey owns and operates more than ten heavy duty vibracoring systems. Vibracoring is considered to be the most cost effective technology to collect large numbers of sediment cores efficiently and with little distortion to the actual core. Three or four inch diameter cores can be collected continuously to a depth of about 40 feet. Sediment vibracores are used extensively for:
- Contaminant characterization
- Geotechnical characterization
- Geophysical data ground-truthing
- Mineral deposit characterization
- Archeological investigation
Barrel liners are typically flexible food-grade polyethylene for contaminant evaluations or rigid polycarbonate for geotechnical samples or high-resolution environmental cores. The flexible liners can be slit with a razor knife, allowing for easy processing in the field or in the lab. A standard 4-inch diameter sediment core yields about 0.5 gallons of sediment per foot of recovered core. A vessel-based field crew can typically collect 8-12 short cores (<8 feet), 6-10 medium cores (8-12 feet) or 4-8 long cores (>12 feet) a day, depending on sampling conditions. We can deploy multiple vibracoring field teams simultaneously.
Benthic Grab Sampling
Aqua Survey has a wide variety of sampling equipment such as: benthic grab samplers, kick-nets, gill-nets, seines, bongo-nets, plankton-nets, epibenthic sleds, fish traps, trawls, underwater video camera, underwater digital still cameras, lightweight ROVs and other monitoring equipment. Specimen samples are collected, sorted, taxonomically identified and enumerated by ASI professionals. Seagrass beds and coral reefs can be digitally imaged/recorded and this data processed to determine their relative health. Resulting data can be used to support:
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission studies (FERC)
- 316(b) larval intake studies
- 301(h) discharge variance studies
- 403(c) discharge monitoring studies
- Rapid bioassessment studies
- Environmental impact studies
- Habitat evaluations
- Bioaccumulation studies
Aqua Survey can deploy a CME-55LC track-mounted drill (or equivalent), a Diedrich D-25 skid-mounted drill, or a portable Winkie drill on several of our vessels. Unconsolidated or moderately consolidated sub-bottom samples can often be collected by vibracoring. Harder bottoms frequently require the use of percussive (hammer) or rotary drilling techniques. During standard drilling, a casing is either hammered or rotated into the bottom to sampling depth. To collect samples at prescribed depths, a split spoon is pushed into the casing and immediately removed and containerized. Unlike a split spoon, a Shelby tube is inserted and then pushed into the casing pipe. Then the sample is allowed to swell in the tube for up to 30 minutes to prevent loss during extraction. After removal, the sample tube is capped and wax-sealed for offsite geotechnical testing. Rotary drilling techniques are utilized to collect consolidated sediment and rock cores.
Vessel-based services include:
- Ground-truthing of geophysical survey data
- Standard penetration testing (SPTs)
- Collection of geotechnical samples (split spoon, Shelby tube, etc.)
- Environmental sample collection
- Use of advance probes (e.g., CPT)
- Collection of rock cores
- Support of Parallel Seismic studies
Grain Size Classification
Aqua Survey utilizes depth sounders and side scan sonar to rapidly characterize the sediment grain size characteristics to economically map surficial grain size of expansive areas. Grain size can be used to accurately predict the potential for contaminant loading. Hypack Max™ software is used for vessel control and tracking. RTK-DGPS or DGPS precision can be achieved for accurate mapping. This technology can classify: Bedrock, Cobble, Gravel, Sand, Silt and Clay.
Dredged Material Assessment
Aqua Survey collects proposed dredged material, processes the sediment samples, and preserves them for analyses. Our scientists regularly perform geotechnical, chemical and biological analyses in support of water quality and disposal alternatives studies. Aqua Survey will help clients prepare a sampling and analysis plan to submit for regulatory approval. The following are examples of in-house procedures:
- Solid-phase total organic carbon (TOC)
- Sieve grain size
- Hydrometer grain size
- Vane shear strength
- Immunoassay (e.g., dioxin, PCB, DNAPL)
- Toxicity studies (acute & chronic)
- Bioaccumulation studies (tissue uptake)
Smart Core Vibracoring
It is often desirable to collect sediment vibracores in areas with known or unknown submerged or sediment buried utilities, unexploded ordnance (UXO), cultural resources or other unknowns to be avoided. Aqua Survey has developed a sediment vibracoring system incorporating electromagnetic transmission and receiver coil technology. This breakthrough technology signals the operator when the nosecone of the core barrel is near a metallic object, allowing the operator to greatly reduce the probability of making contact.
Areas of known military waste often need to be assessed for contaminants leaching into the aquatic environment. The use of the Smart Core™ can safeguard field technicians from UXO during coring activities.
The Smart Core™ can collect up to 20-feet of a continuous 4-inch diameter core in a flexible inner-core liner. Electromagnetic data are viewed real-time and logged simultaneously into a digital file.
Foundation Depth Determination
Parallel Seismic (PS) non-destructive tests are performed by placing a hydrophone into a cased, flooded bore-hole near the partially submerged foundation and then using an instrumented tapping device to send sound waves into the foundation and to the hydrophone. Algorithms are then used to determine the foundation’s depth. PS investigations can be performed on concrete, wood, masonry and steel foundations.
Aqua Survey’s primary drilling platforms are liftboats and pontoon vessels. These vessels can also be used to support Parallel Seismic non-destructive testing in shallow waters.
Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices
Semi-permeable membrane devices (SPMDs) utilize selective membrane oil packets that are jacketed in stainless steel perforated housing. SPMDs can be deployed on anchors or buoys or deployed and retrieved discretely by use of an anchor, a float and an acoustic release. Once the SPMDs are retrieved, the semi-permeable membrane packets are recovered and can be sent to specialty laboratories for contaminant analysis.
This technology is used to:
- Assist PRPs with characterizing plumes
- Support regulators in determining extent of contamination
- Collect specific outfall data
- Provide stealth collection of data
Water Sampling and Quality Monitoring
Aqua Survey operates a wide array of water sampling and monitoring equipment. ASI collects samples with Alpha, Kemmerer and Niskin Bottles, as well as water pumps and other specialty samplers. ASI can deploy Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices (SPMDs) to sample the water column for specific contaminants. ASI also utilizes state-of-the-art real-time monitoring devices, such as the Sea-Bird Electronics CTD, and other multi-probe systems, to collect conductivity, temperature, depth and dissolved oxygen data. ASI’s sampling and monitoring services are used to support:
- PRP investigations
- Discharge permitting
- Environmental dredging monitoring
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pipeline permitting
- Dredged material disposal operations
- Superfund evaluations
- Contaminant plumes