Associates Locate Contaminants in the Sea bed

Collaborating with Williamson & Associates, a leading marine geophysics and ocean engineering firm based in Seattle, gave Nytec an opportunity to use marine induced polarization (MIP) to scan the harbor floor at Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island, WA. MIP pulses fundamental frequency waves into the water to polarize materials that can then be identified through their unique signatures. This process helps to reveal the degree and type of contamination present and can be used to monitor the effectiveness of remediation efforts in marine ecosystems.

CLIENT
  • US Coast Guard
YEAR ANNOUNCED
  • 2018
SERVICES PROVIDED
  • Industrial Design
  • RF Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Firmware
  • Testing
  • Quality Control
  • Proof of Concept
  • Photography

Challenge

The pristine waters of the puget sound can conceal contaminants lying deep below the surface. This was the case in Eagle Harbor of Bainbridge island, now a superfund cleanup site, where a creosote wood-treatment facility operated for 85 years.

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These operations contaminated the soil and groundwater with chemicals from the wood-treatment process—primarily creosote-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pentachlorophenol (PCP), aromatic carrier oils, and dioxins/furans—posing a risk to public health and to the environment.

Each material has a characteristic frequency for its response.

- Art Griner, Project Manager, Williamson & Associates

Solution

The first step in cleanup is discovery; concentrations of contaminants must be found and mapped before removal or containment operations can begin.

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The situation in Eagle Harbor provided an ideal scenario for marine induced polarization, an advanced mineral detection technology deployed by only a handful of companies worldwide.

Williamson & Associates, a leading marine geophysics and ocean engineering firm based in Seattle, dispatched a boat and crew to Eagle Harbor to scan the harbor floor using marine induced polarization (MIP) technology. MIP pulses fundamental frequency waves into the water to polarize materials that can then be identified through their unique signatures.

The crew systematically dragged the harbor floor using specialized receivers and transmitters to take and record readings. They repeated this process twice more at intervals of several months

Results

Through computer analysis, Williamson technicians decoded their readings and cataloged the results — compiling valuable knowledge that informs their evolving techniques, processes, and equipment.

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Findings from fieldwork like the Eagle Harbor operations contribute to a growing library of field-proven signatures for targeted marine materials.

Commercial applications for marine induced polarization reach across subsea industrial operations, from seabed mining to ocean remediation and spill response. By precisely targeting specific materials, the technology helps make ocean operations more efficient and effective, creating a win-win situation all around.

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