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Newport Facilities

[Aerial photo of Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport, OR]

The Pacific Coastal Ecology Branch (PCEB) is housed in a state-of-the-art laboratory building at a seaside location ideal for marine and estuarine research. Wet labs are available for a variety of experiments, including tests with exotic species and chronic pollutant exposures. Analytical laboratory facilities provide for low-level analysis of organic pollutants, metals, and natural products. Adjacent facilities of Oregon State University, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offer opportunities for collaboration.

Overview

The research laboratory complex for the Pacific Coastal Ecology Branch (PCEB) was completed in 1990 at a total project cost of approximately 12 million dollars.  Construction included the laboratory and office facilities for PCEB, a new seawater pumping and storage system to supply both CEB needs and those of the other laboratories on the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) campus, and a marine science research library for the Hatfield campus.  The library facility, now known as the Marilyn Potts Guin Library,  was donated by the federal government to Oregon State University in November, 1992. 

The PCEB research complex occupies approximately 3.2 acres on the east side of the HMSC campus on the shore of Yaquina Bay.  The laboratory site is made up of approximately 1 acre of buildings, and two acres of grounds most of which is covered with natural vegetation.  The laboratory has an inner courtyard of approximately 0.2 acres which is landscaped with native vegetation, gravel pathways, benches and a central stone fountain. 

Buildings in the complex consist of the main laboratory/office building, the seawater reservoir, a storage building, and the hazardous waste storage building.  The main laboratory building contains approximately 42,000 sq ft, with 7,250 sq ft of office space in the office wing, and 23,560 sq ft in the laboratory wing.  Office and laboratory spaces are located in separate wings as a feature to allow the safe conduct of research dealing with effects of hazardous materials on the marine environment. 

Seawater System

The PCEB seawater system provides seawater for the entire HMSC campus.  The system has an 800,000 gallon storage reservoir which is filled from two 10 in diameter supply lines during a three hour pumping cycle twice each day.  The tidal cycle within Yaquina Bay where the seawater intakes are located means that high salinity ocean water will be present at the intake location for approximately three hours per tidal cycle.  Salinity sensors turn off the pumps when water below the target salinity is encountered.

Pollution Abatement Facility

The Pollution Abatement Facility (PAF) is a unique feature of the PCEB research facility.  This state of the art treatment facility is located in space S-122 of the laboratory wing.   There are eight 1600 gallon storage tanks and eight 2500 gallon storage tanks in the PAF.  Drain lines from any laboratory in the wing can be routed into the PAF.   Unaltered seawater free from contact with non-indigenous species or chemical contamination can be routed to the seawater drain and returned to the estuary.   Seawater contaminated in any fashion by experiments can be routed to the storage tanks, analyzed, treated as necessary to remove or detoxify contaminants, and can then be released to the City of Newport wastewater treatment facility. 

Boats and Hovercraft

The laboratory research vessels are a 16' Alaskan Sea Skiff workboat (the Pelican), and 18' Alumacraft Skiff (the Scoter), a 17' shallow draft workboat (the Coot), and a 15' ACT Aircushion Technologies hovercraft (the Mud Puppy).  The hovercraft provides unique transportation capability for two researchers and field gear to rapidly access sampling sites on mud and sand flats in the intertidal zones of Pacific Northwest estuaries.  The estuaries of the Pacific Northwest have large tidal amplitudes which result in extensive expanses of these habitats which can be difficult to traverse with research equipment on foot.  All research vessels are equipped with trailers. 

Geographical Information System

PCEB employs Geographical Information System (GIS) technology in support of in house research.  GIS capabilities include ARCINFO,  ARCVIEW, ER MAPPER, PC GPS and other software operating on a Gateway 2000 PC (400 MHZ) server operating with Windows NT.  ARCINFO is also currently supported on older Data General Unix based servers.  Output devices include an HP750C large format plotter.  Field work is supported by a Corvallis Microtechnologies differential GPS and a Leica base station to provide local differential correction. A Riegl laser range finder integrated to the GPS systems also allows precise distance measurements to be obtained. 

Chemical Analysis Capability

PCEB has extensive chemical analytical capabilities for a wide variety or organic and inorganic compounds.  Particular expertise exists for analysis of organic pollutants such as PCB’s, PAH’s and pesticides such as DDT.  Analytical equipment includes a Perkin Elmer Atomic Absorption spectrophotometer with autosampler, and three Hewlett Packard model 5890 Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometers with autosamplers. 

Controlled Temperature Rooms

There are eight controlled temperature rooms at PCEB. These include one walk in freezer, one 4 C sample storage room, two cool rooms for sample storage, two phytoplankton culture chambers, and two chambers available for experimental modifications as needed. 

Photosynthetically Active and Ultraviolet Radiation Measurement

The PCEB has the capability to support research on ultraviolet radiation effects with its ultraviolet  - B (UVB) exposure chamber.  Complete photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and UVB measurements can be made both above and below water with Optronics Laboratories scanning and UVB spectroradiometers and a Licor underwater spectroradiometer.  Two Sea Bird CTD instruments are also equipped with PAR sensors which allow extended field deployment and measurement of water column light field. 

Radiation Measurement Capabilities

The PCEB radiation laboratory is equipped to conduct carbon -14 labeling studies with a Packard sample oxidizer and liquid scintillation counter.  Recently acquired capabilities now being put online include a Princeton Gamma Tech gamma ray spectrophotometer which allows radiometric dating of sediment core samples using signals from cesium- 137 and lead-210 isotopes. 

Organic Matter, Sediment and Nutrient Analyses

Characterization of organic matter is carried out with a Perkin-Elmer CHN (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen) analyzer, and an OIC Total Carbon Analyzer.  A CEM Corp. microwave digester is used to prepare samples for mass spectrometry characterization of organic matter components such as lignin from plant material.  Phytoplankton nutrients (e.g. nitrate, phosphate) are analyzed with a Dionex Ion Chromatograph with auto sampler.  Sedimentary and organic particles including phytoplankton can be automatically sized and counted using a Coulter Multisizer II-E particle counter.  Chlorophyll concentrations can be measured with Shimadzu spectrophotometer or with Turner Designs field fluorometers.

Oceanographic Measurement Capabilities

In addition to the extensive analytical capabilities of the laboratory described above, measurements of salinity (conductivity), temperature, and depth (pressure) can be obtained from eight Sea Bird and YSI CTD systems with data logging capabilities.  Two CTD’s are moored from the HMSC dock at surface and depth to obtain continuous temperature and salinity profiles of Yaquina Bay.  The two Sea Bird CTD systems are also equipped to measure chlorophyll and PAR in situ with on board fluorometers and photo sensors.  An Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, jointly operated with the Atlantic Ecology Division, allows water current speed and direction throughout the water column to be determined. 

Marine Organism Identification and Culture Capabilities

In addition to the constant temperature rooms described above which are used for the culture of marine phytoplankton, PCEB houses four laboratories equipped with flow through seawater systems for culture and experimentation with marine invertebrate (e.g. amphipods and polychaete worms) and vertebrate (fishes) organisms.  An invertebrate identification laboratory includes a suite of Zeiss, Leitz, and Wild compound and dissecting microscopes. Several Zeiss microscopes are equipped with high resolution video cameras and television monitors to observe and record fine details of invertebrate structures.  Image analysis software allows some aspects of size and counting measurements to be automated. 

General Laboratory Support Equipment

PCEB possesses an array of analytical and bench top balances, centrifuges ranging from bench top to ultracentrifuge, ovens, a freeze dryer, muffle furnaces, and autoclaves.  The steam sterilizer is unique in that it has been modified to produce steam from a deionized water source to prevent any contamination of glassware in the sterilization process.  All labs where chemicals are used are equipped with fume hoods.

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