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February 01, 1963 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1963-02-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY

UNDAMENTAL INFORMATION:
Scientists Probe Mysteries of Great Lakes

s C.)

By MICHAEL SATTINGER
"The major problem in the man-
agement of the Great Lakes as a.
water resource is the lack of fun-
damental information a b o u t
them," Prof. David C. Chandler,
director of the Great Lakes Re-
search Division of the Institute of
Science and Technology, said re-
cently.
In terms of the abundance of
water, there is no scarcity. But the
water for hydroelectric power,
waste disposal, navigation, fisher-
ies, recreation and water supply
must be suitable. "Pollution is the
central problem in the manage-
ment of the Great Lakes," he ex-
plained.
"One must first know the char-
acteristics of the Great Lakes. In
addition to conducting research,
the division cooperates with orga-
nizations and departments in re-
lated fields in trying to establish
facts about the lakes. We believe
that these fundamental facts will
be useful in solving practical prob-
lems."
Shore Waste
Frequently,, pollution problems
in the Great Lakes are concerned
with waste from the population
on the shore. Also, all inland towns
located next to rivers pollute the
lakes. When pollution is flushed
out of streams, it goes into the
lakes. Since water does not flow
evenly through the lakes, there is a
greater accumulation and settling
of waste.
One phase of pollution research
in the Great Lakes is the biologi-
cal study of the rate of photosyn-
thesis. Suspended in the lakes are
phyto -plankton, green algae,
which produce the carbohydrates
and energy for other organisms to
use. Phyto-plankton can convert
pollution into products which are
not harmful.
The conversion of pollution
gives lakes a self-purifying effect.
"Large lakes can Assimilate large
but limited amounts of pollution,"
Prof. Chandler said.
Small Lake
"We want to know if a large
lake is more efficient in the pro-
duction of organic matter than a
small lake. Knowledge of the rate
of photosynthesis for the Great
Lakes would help indicate how
much pollution can be assimilated
by them."
'Knowledge of the patterns of
water circulation is also necessary
in solving problems of pollution.
Waste is dispersed, diluted and
transported according to the cur-
rents. Under certain conditions,
waste may remain in an area and
even return to shore.

In meteorology, the division is
studying the relative amounts of
precipitation on the lakes and on
the surrounding land. Also, GLRD
is investigating how much water
leaves the lake through evapora-
tion. "This information is import-
ant in the computatibn of the
water budget," he continued.
"We want to be able to evaluate'
the effects of the lakes on the cli-
mate."
The history of the Great Lakes
presents many areas of study for
GLRD. The division has access to
the records of the conditions on,
shore for the last 100 years. If a
relationship can be found between
the shore data and the open lake
situation, the records will tell what
the lake was like in the recent
past.
Yield Data
Geological studies of the sedi-
ment yield more information on
the history of the lakes. Two years
ago a project by the division re-
corded the distribution and type
of sediment above the baserock
in Lake Superior. The depth of
sediment ranged from three to 600
feet. Further studies may soon be
started on other lakes.
Geologists are able biologically
and chemically to analyze sedi-
ment samples taken from the bot-
tom of lakes. From this informa-
tion ithey are able to describe the
rate of deposition of sediment.
This in turn enables them to tell
how old the lake is.
Prof. Paul L. Cloke of the geol-
ogy department is one such geo-
chemist doing research for GLRD.
"Once we have a sample, we can1
analyze it chemically," Prof. Cloke1
said. "We look for trace elements
-those materials constituting less
than 0.01 per cent of the sample-
in both the mud and the water.
Older Sediment
"We are trying to see if there
is any relationship between the
trace elements of the sediment and
the major constituents of, the wa-
ter. If we can find such a relation-
ship, we can go to older sediments
and find out what the water was
like at that time," he continued.
"We also want to discover what'
controls the chemical composition
of the sediment." Possible factors
which control the composition may
be the acidity and the oxidation
potential of the water.
One known major factor is the
mineral matter brought to the lake

Most of the on-site research con-
ducted through GLRD is done on
the three vessels owned by the di-
vision. The smallest, a 34-foot gas-
oline powered ship, displaces eight
tons. Although it can sleep four
people, it is used mainly for in-
shore studies.
The largest is the 114-foot diesel
powered Inland Seas, which dis-
places-425 tons. It has living quar-
ters for 21, including quarters and
shower for four women. The In-
land Seas is suitable for open-lake
investigations and large - scale
projects.
The newest, a 50-foot diesel
powered steel hulled vessel, will be
put into operation this summer.
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The University presently has a
graduate program in oceanogra-
phy. Students in the program are
given experience aboard the divi-'
sion's research vessels. "One of the
objectives of GLRD is to imple-
ment the teaching programs of
the University. So we try to have
graduate students work with the
division," Prof. Chandler said.
"The greater part of our money
comes from federal agencies. We
receive money from IST to handle
administration. University funds
available for research projectsare
used to complete preliminary stud-
ies before submitting a proposal to
a potential sponsor," he added.
"The United States P u b 1i c
Health Service will be locating its
Water Pollution Control Labora-
tory in Ann Arbor because of the
amount of research in'the area
already being done here."
"The center of Great Lakes re-
search is here at the University,"
Prof. Chandler concluded.

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CORE SAMPLING-To study the history of the Great Lakes,
geologists take samples of the sediment at and below the bottoms
of the lakes. The three University research vessels are capable of
bringing samples up from 600 feet of water.

I

I

I,

by rivers and dust. Some of the
trace elements are determined by
this matter. "It is important to
know the source of the trace ele-
ments in order to establish any re-
lationship between the composi-
tions of the sediment and water,"
Prof. Cloke noted.
Charged Particle
Another factor is ion exchange
between the water and the sedi-
ment. One clay may tend to pick
up a certain charged particle from
the water and another may not.
"We hope to study the mineral-
ogy of the sediments to get a bet-
ter understanding of the rate,
amount and methods of the ex-
change of elements between water
and the sediments.
"By studying the first few feet
of sediments, we can find the ef-
fect of age on sediment. The na-

ture of this effect is related to the
question of how long it takes sedi-
ment to turn into rock," Prof.
Cloke concluded.

COLUMBIA
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The amount of water going
through the lakes and where the
water flows must both behinvesti-
gated. "We have studied the pat-
tern of water circulation in the
Great Lakes more thoroughly than
anyone else. However, we still have
only a superficial knowledge. The
study of water circulation is a long
term project which was begun in
1953," Prof. Chandler commented.
Pollution Problems
The scope of GIrD extends be-
yond pollution problems. "Ship-
ping concerns have shown an in-
terest in keeping channels open
for navigation on the lakes in win-
ter." Data on the thickness, extent,
distribution and characteristics of
the ice cover are needed.
The division has a project on
Lake Michigan in which shore ob-
servers note the extent and depth
of ice cover. Although the lake
may skim over for a few hours,
most of the ice is confined to the
shores. Information on ice cover is
also needed in the study of shore
erosion and gouging by ice flows.
Satellites have been able to take
clear photographs of the Great
Lakes. "We hope to coordinate
some of our observations. This will
be done by taking detailed obser-
vations of selected areas and com-
paring with the satellite pictures
of the same area," Prof. Chandler
added.
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