For the past two weeks, I have been working on finishing up all my data. Ventura Swash is now officially complete, making my dataset complete as well. Overall, Ventura Swash was somewhat cleaner than other beaches sampled. This is because there are fewer amounts of microfibers, and the main colors found were blue, black, and red. Now, I have collected samples from Pt. Mugu and Ormond to determine if there is a large (notable) difference in a number of microfibers found in my samples from November to March. The large amount of storms we had recently in California is creating worries of changes in sediment and overall characteristics. Once my samples are dry I will be able to separate them and filter out this second analysis.
This week, I finished all Marina Park swash samples. Currently, I now only have Ventura swash samples to filter and my dataset will be complete. In the Marina Park samples, blue, black, and red fibers were very high in numbers, with blue being the highest. This is an interesting find because although I have found blue at every site, they have not been so high in numbers. Hopefully, this find was not a contamination issue since blue and red fibers have been found as contamination in the CSUCI lab areas. Overall, I should be done collecting data within the next week or so and after that I will be just looking over a few samples again to check the data is correct.
This week I did Ormond strand samples, and found there to be a large amount of samples within this area. There were many black and blue fibers, even some red. Some, but not all, were frayed and long. These kind of fibers have been known to be contamination from the air ventilation, but for this situation it is not known.
This week I finished all the Marina Park strand samples and even the Point Mugu swash! Currently, I only have Ormond swash, Marina Park swash, and Ventura swash until my dataset is complete. One thing I found interesting, is that the swash samples had a larger amount of microfibers compared to the strand. This is an interesting find but also makes me wonder if there was something I possibly missed throughout the counting process. Tan and brown fibers are hard to distinguish and sometimes do not look like fibers. They seem to sometimes be translucent and glass-like, yet have the same characteristics as a blue or black fiber would. Overall, my progress is speeding up and I should be done with all data collection by mid March or early April!
This week, I filtered most of the Marina Park strand samples. Some notable qualities I came across was one sample which had 22 blue fibers on it. I waited to see if other GPS point samples had the same amount, or even any of the Marina Park samples. Unfortunately, this particular GPS point sample was the only one with the many blue fibers. This is a huge indicator that this sample was left out for a long period of tme (most likely while drying) while in the sierra hall cons bio lab at CSUCI. Further research will be done with this sample to determine if I should include it in the results or exclude it as contaminated.
This week, I finished filtering the Ventura strand samples. Overall, Ventura beach seems to be a fairly clean beach compared to pt. Mugu and Ormond. Although, I am still finding blue frayed fibers, which may or may not be the contaminated fibers found from the labs on campus at CSUCI. The majority of fibers found within Ventura are black and blue, similar to what I have been finding with samples from Pt. Mugu and Ormond.
As I was filtering the Ventura Strand samples, I began noticing a few fibers that look familiar to the control fibers which were found in both labs at California State University, Channel Islands. There were both blue and red fibers, some of which had the frayed edges we were told to look out for. Besides this new suspicion, I have observed some differences between all the beaches I have filtered out. So far, it looks like Ventura may be the cleanest beach just from observing obvious fiber abundances between Pt. Mugu, Ormond, and Ventura.
After a week off from doing lab work, the vacuum pump has now been replaced and is ready for use! Today I worked in the lab for about 4 hours and managed to filter out sand from the Ormand strand samples, as well as prep the Ventura strand samples. Some notable things from today included a small amount of questionable (possibly contaminated) red and blue fibers, as well as grain size comparisons. As I saw a few very long red and blue fibers, some which were frayed, this sparked an interest. There has been information about fibers such as these which may be contamination from the airflow of the Sierra Hall ConsBio and Modoc Labs at California State University, Channel Islands. These particular samples were saved for later analysis to determine if they are from those specific contaminated areas.
As I was prepping the samples from Ventura, the grain sizes were notable. The largest grain size which has been separated is an opening of 0.0394 inches from the sieve. This grain size from Ventura has very small amounts of this range and when processing the sand in mason jars with saline solution, there is a large difference compared to other sediment sizes. This will not make any difference on the results since the plastic will be floating above the sediment either way. To fix this issue for the analysis, I will be taking a standard by dividing the number of fibers by the grams of sand per sample. Things are starting to pick up in the lab which makes me very hopeful for these next few weeks. I will continue to post updates as I progress in my research!
The pump which was used to filter out sand for microplastics has taken a dive this week. According to Emily, our ESRM lab technician, the vacuum pump was not holding pressure and was about 18-18.5kPa when normally it is about 20-25kPa. After taking a closer look and doing a leak check on the entire system the identified problem is the pump. Emily has troubleshot it and determined that water has gotten inside the pump/corroded some of the metal inside. This has slowed down my research, along with other students research, by a good amount. Hopefully we can solve the issue and get back to work!
Last week, I filtered samples from Ormond Beach. As I was looking through, I realized how polluted this particular beach was. It took me much longer to count fibers and particles, and I even needed help in order to do so. There were about 30-40 fibers on one sample paper at once, which was probably not all that were there. The entire filter paper was covered in fibers in a variety of colors and I even found some very large red and black ones.