Scientists use Lock and Dam 14 to study mystery along the Mississippi

PLEASANT VALLEY - Researchers are turning a part of Lock and Dam 14 into an outdoor lab on Tuesday, June 13.

That's where they hope to solve some mysteries in the Mississippi River.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey try to unearth clues by using a harmless red dye to lead the way.

"We have instruments that can pick up various small concentrations of this dye as it moves through the waters," said Hydrologist Jon Lageman.

Lageman and his team are using the auxiliary lock as a testing site.  While the red dye isn't really visible to the naked eye, censors in the water record data that might help control an invasive carp population.

"This is just purely looking at how a tracer moves through the water system," he continued.

Testing could reveal if carbon dioxide could help control Grass Carp in the Mississippi.  It's an invasive fish because it eats plants crucial to other species.

"How that CO2 may potentially travel through the lock," he said.  "How it might be dispersed.  How it might mix within the water."

It's a time-consuming process at water level as they move through each trial along the river.  From high above ground, the view symbolizes preserving the majestic flow along the Mississippi.

"So far, it's too early to tell what we're seeing from the data," Lageman concluded.  "But we've been collecting some good data."

Scientists like Lageman will be studying that data in coming months.  They hope the research will produce some interesting conclusions to protect the Mississippi River for years to come.