Learn English – What does “delineate” mean in this context


I was reading a Scientific American story, “Controversial Spewed Iron Experiment Succeeds as Carbon Sink” by David Biello, when I came across this sentence:

The problem for scientists is that oceanic waters tend to mix, which makes monitoring and delineating an experiment in the ocean challenging.

I'm wondering what delineate means in this context. Does it mean “describe” or “trace the outline of”?

Could someone kindly enlighten me on this?

Best Answer

The authors seem to be using the word "delineating" incorrectly. I think they mean "delimiting". From context it seems that they either want to restrict the experiment to a certain range of ocean waters that they can monitor, or else to figure out how large a region of ocean waters they need to monitor, but because ocean waters tend to mix, that's difficult. Restricting the range would be "circumscribing", and figuring out how large a region they need to monitor would be "delimiting". My guess is that they meant "delimiting".