Monday, June 18, 2012

Who's Who: Carter DuVal

Carter DuVal is beginning his first year as a University of Delaware masters student of Oceanography. With an undergraduate degree in Archeology from St. Mary's College of California, Carter now hopes to hone in on his personal interest, underwater archeology, during his time as a graduate student and beyond.


As a prospective student, he assisted with the data collection for Justin Walker's masters thesis, which focused on the density and distribution of scallops in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, mentioned in an earlier entry. Shortly after, he spent 21 days on the Ocean Exploration Trust's E/V Nautilus as a navigator.


His masters thesis will focus on the sand ripples around Redbird Reef, an artificial reef 16 miles east of the Indian River Inlet in Delaware. This reef is made up of New York City "Redbird" subway cars, barges, tugs, and similar objects submerged from 1997 to 2010. These recycled cars and vessels make ideal materials for artificial reefs, as their structural cavities create a desirable environment for reef fish. Though the methodological specifics of the project are not yet complete, most of the principle aims have already been laid out. He hopes to investigate how associative currents and conditions affect the formation of sand ripples in Redbird reef, therefore analyzing the effect of the artificial objects on the adjacent geological environment.


A combination of a rotary sonar and an Acoustic Current Doppler Profiler (ACDP) will be the primary means of remote sensing. The sonar will take a 360-degree view of the sediment around the reef, and the ACDP will measure absolute current velocities. Data collection will occur for several months so that variation over time can be observed. A unique point of Carter's thesis is that he will be utilizing a fingerprint algorithm to process the sand ripple data. The algorithm was initially used to study ridges in fingerprints, but has recently been used by a UD doctoral student for the purpose of underwater geology. This analysis tool recognizes ripples in the ocean floor and yields orientation, wavelength, and spatial density.


Carter is excited to begin his research and combine his two interests of archeology and oceanography. With a first deployment date of approximately two months from now, much preparation is underway. 

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