For the first time ever, a lake in Lancaster County has been mapped, thanks to Millersville University biology student Elefteria Papavasilis who is working with Millersville professors Dr. Ajoy Kumar and Dr. Dominique Didier. They completed the first phase of the project this summer studying Lake Allure in Quarryville, Pennsylvania for its eventual use as a training ground for scuba diving.
Earlier this fall, Papavasilis gave a demonstration of the remote operated vehicle and talked about her research with members of the Quarryville Borough, police department, borough maintenance, water department and the fire department.
To study the lake, Papavasilis used the University’s remote operated vehicle, sonar and global positioning satellites to map the bottom contours of Lake Allure. Nate Murray, a graduate of Millersville then used a software called Ocean Data View to turn those data points into a color-coded map featuring the contours of the lake. By having this information accessible to the local community, it makes scuba diving training in the lake much safer since the data has identified hazards and potential dangers to divers.
“Millersville University does not offer scuba certification, and this is important for marine science students seeking a job in the field. The closest training facility for certification dives was over two hours away. For many students, the drive to get certified was undoable. By developing Lake Allure into a dive training facility, students now only have to drive 20 minutes to do their certification dives,” says Papavasilis.
Papavasilis is also working with Didier to study the biodiversity of Lake Allure since no one has ever explored or documented its aquatic inhabitants. She is studying two boats that were intentionally sunk in the spring as attractions for scuba divers. One wreck is a speedboat located in 40 feet of water and the other wreck is a sailboat in 65 feet of water. Papavasilis is studying the rate of growth on these wrecks through the use underwater photography, scuba and sampling methods. Each month she collected a series of samples and processed them in Didier’s laboratory. Papavasilis discovered some interesting and diverse microorganisms living on the wrecks.
“I expect the bathymetry(the measurement of depth of water in oceans, seas or lakes) aspect of my research to be completed in spring 2022, as I will be presenting at Made in Millersville, and I will seek publication for my paper in scientific research journals. The biodiversity aspect of my research will continue into spring 2023 with the field research ending in August 2022, and a thesis of this research to be completed in 2023,” says Papavasilis.
For more information on the marine biology and oceanography programs, check out Ville Marine Biology.