Journey to the center of the vortex

11/19/2009 - By: Natalie Savidge

Leading scientists Margy Gassel and Andrea Neal will tell Reynolds School of Journalism graduate students and the public about their four weeks aboard the Kaisei sailing vessel exploring the northern Pacific's "plastic vortex."

The vortex, otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is a giant whirlpool hundreds of miles off the California coast where an astonishing amount of plastic debris has accumulated.

The mission of the four-week exploration was to study the North Pacific Gyre and the marine debris that has collected in this oceanic region, to determine how to capture the debris, and to study the retrieval and processing techniques that potentially could be employed to detoxify and recycle these materials into diesel fuel.

Neal, a surf and scuba enthusiast, researches environmental toxins with Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society. Gassel explores marine life from research vessels and evaluates chemical contamination of fish for the California Environmental Protection Agency.

The free talk is at noon, Friday, Nov. 20 in Room 304 in the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism Building.


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