Archive for June 9th, 2015

Russian Birch Climate Reconstruction

June 9th, 2015

Guest blogger – Dan Misinay

During the summer of 2014 Dr. Wiles and I.S. student Sarah Fredrick traveled to Kamchatka, Russia. While there, they cored hundreds of birch (Bertula ermanii) and larch (Larix gmelinii) trees to bring back to the tree ring lab and be analyzed. The cores were mounted, sanded, counted, and measured. This study is important because very little work has been done with Russian birch regarding climate reconstruction. The work that I have been doing so far this summer has been strictly with the birch trees.

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Hard at work with COFECHA and measuring cores.

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The birch forest growing on steep slopes in Kamchatka.

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Photo of sample UG05 of normal growth rings in the birch.

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Rapid growth occurring in 90 percent of the samples. Possibly caused from warming or increased precipitation.

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One of the many challenges with the birch trees were these patches of narrow rings. This growth occurred from 1990-2013 and or 1930-1960 in many of the cores. This growth could be caused from climate change or pollution in the surrounding environment. Additionally the rings at this site may be reacting to being on a slope, or the tree is slowly dying.

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Birch with small rings, notice one of the rings is much lighter than the rest of the wood. These changes occur between 1825 and 1875 in some of the samples.

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Another photo of birch trees growing in Kamchatka. Some of the abnormal ring growth could be linked to the growing conditions. Trees the grow on slopes generally have reaction wood which will cause the ring to grow much larger on side of the tree than the other. The side opposite of the reaction wood is generally very narrow and rings are pinched out.

 

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UG site from Kamchatka plotted against results from Sano et al, 2009. These are raw ring width measurements correlated with one another. UG site measurements are represented by the green line and Sano’s data is the blue line.

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The above graph is the UG site chronology after being standardized. The growth trend is removed so that the desired climate signal is only showing. There are many trends through out the graphed that will be addressed later in the summer when the climate reconstruction is completed. The blue line on the bottom represents the number of samples at each given year.

References

Sano, M., Furuta, F., and Sweda, T., 2009, Tree-ring-width chronology of Larix gmelinii as an indicator of changes in early summer temperature in east-central Kamchatka: J For Res, v. 14, p. 147-154.

A coincidence?

June 9th, 2015

a Shoe Zone SmithSCARBOROUGH, ENGLAND (June 9, 2015) — Why do these geologists look so pleased to be standing in front of a nondescript shoe store? The answer is on the blue plaque above their heads.

b Smith plaque 060915Turns out we’ve been eating breakfast every morning next to the Scarborough home of the heroic geologist William Smith. Auspicious!

Return to the Speeton Clay

June 9th, 2015

1 Mae on Speeton 060915SCARBOROUGH, ENGLAND (June 9, 2015) — Team Yorkshire returned to the Speeton Clay today to begin the fieldwork for Mae Kemsley’s Senior Independent Study project. Mae chose to work on the incredible diversity of belemnites found in this Lower Cretaceous unit. There are two aspects to her study: the paleoecology of the belemnites themselves, and the taphonomy of their distinctive bullet-shaped calcitic rostra (guards). We hope that Mae will be able to do some stable isotope work to help elucidate the paleoenvironments these pelagic creatures lived in. Oxygen isotopes in particular may indicate the seawater temperatures when the belemnites were forming their skeletons. The Speeton Clay has faunas from alternating Boreal (northern, colder) and Tethyan (southern) regions, so this will be interesting.

2 Middle Cliff SpeetonHere is the Speeton Clay forming the Middle Cliff along the shoreline. Virtually every outcrop of this unit is slumped from above, so sorting out the stratigraphy is a challenge.

3 Mae working 060915Here is Mae again working through a small patch of the Speeton Clay. There are four broad intervals of the unit (A, B, C, D) that we must recognize by the fossil content and the position of the outcrop relative to various field markers like abandoned pillboxes, breakwaters, and large rocks.5-SS-Laura-boilers

One of our intertidal landmarks is a set of boilers from the 1897 wreck of the SS Laura, an Austro-Hungarian cargo ship that ran aground near Filey Brigg. The heavy boilers have stayed in essentially the same place for over a century.

4 Speeton work 060915The weather could not have been better today. We got Mae’s project off to a fine start with several sets of samples collected from the four primary units of the Speeton Clay.

Paul Taylor returned to his home in Epsom at the end of the day, leaving the three Americans to their own devices. He was essential in our first week, getting us oriented to the local geology, expertly driving us around to the various sites, and entertaining us with his trademark puns. He trained us well to carry on into week two of the Yorkshire Expedition.