Coring Odell Lake

July 9th, 2010

Odell Lake in the early morning hours.

The dedicated team of Wooster Geologists, Sarah Appleton, Stephanie Jarvis, and Dr. Greg Wiles met up with the sleep deprived team of Geologists from The University of Cincinnati, Bill Honsaker, Gianna Evans, and Dr. Tom Lowell. The goal of day one was to field test equipment destined for a trip to Greenland, acquire lake cores for the Climate Change class at The College of Wooster and map the lake using geophysics, a branch of earth science dealing with the physical processes and phenomena occurring especially in the earth and in its vicinity.

Odell Lake is located in Holmes County, Ohio and is a natural lake that was formed by a glacier. Portions of the glacier broke off and melted forming a kettle lake. In the case of Odell Lake three pieces of a glacier broke off during the termination of the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago, and melted. As a result Odell Lake has three basins. The first basin is the largest but also the shallowest, the second basin is smaller and deeper and the westernmost basin is the smallest and deepest attaining almost 30 feet in depth.

Our first day began early in the morning in an attempt to beat the heat of the day. Once we arrived at the lake we began to unload our supplies. Most of our equipment came “some assembly required”.

A whole new meaning to some assembly required.

After several hours of assembling the necessary tools and equipment we were ready to divvy up jobs. Sarah and Gianna were assigned to the geophysics boat. Gianna was the geophysics specialist and Sarah was the boat driver (Gianna was a brave soul because this was Sarah’s first time driving this type of boat). Stephanie, Dr. Wiles, Bill, and Dr. Lowell boarded the coring vessel for her maiden voyage.

Sarah is learning to drive the boat and Gianna is ready, just in case, with the paddle.

Sarah and Gianna began crossing the lake mapping the depth and using sonar to determine the stratigraphy under the bottom of the lake. The wind was blowing pretty strongly and it caused a problem when the pair attempted to map the shallower water. The boat-mounted shade tent, as it turned out, made a terrific sail and the boat was blown aground. After some delicate maneuvering and dismantling the “sail” the team was back on track.

The geophysics team (Sarah and Gianna) deciding their next move.

The coring vessel was paddled out into the deeper water. It was a slow going process. Once the coring team was near to the location Sarah and Gianna were flagged down to identify the deepest part of the second basin. After assisting the coring raft the geophysics team returned to mapping. 

Onboard the coring raft the team worked diligently to test the equipment. At the end of the day they had a good set of cores and the geophysics team towed in the raft to save a lot of paddling.

Posing for a picture during a break.

After a hard day’s work the group went out for ice cream in the lovely town of Shreve. Over ice cream the team made plans for the next day.

Day Two:

Another early start to beat the heat with less assembly required than the previous day. The first task was to untangle the mass of ropes and anchors that held the raft in place during coring. It was decided that burlap sacks of rocks for anchors would be needed for Greenland. The raft was towed out to the third and deepest basin for coring. Once the raft was in place and firmly anchored the team went to work using two different types of coring methods.

The coring team (Dr. Wiles, Dr. Lowell, Stephanie, and Bill) hard at work.

Meanwhile, in the geophysics boat, Sarah and Gianna switched places. Gianna was captaining the ship while Sarah was learning to use the sonar and computer programs. Gianna was excellent about teaching Sarah to use the equipment and answering her endless questions.

Stephanie awaiting the core hand off so she can wrap it up for transport back to the Sediment Core Analysis Lab.

Both groups worked until they heard thunder. Sarah and Gianna moved back to the third basin to tow in the raft. Fortunately the first thunderstorm missed the lake. The group arrived safely on shore and began to disassemble the equipment and reload the trucks and trailer. When the group was nearly done a torrential downpour ensued causing the group to scamper for cover in the cars and trailer, where they received the sever thunderstorm warning for the area. The down pour only lasted for a few minutes before the team was back to work with a renewed vigor to beat the next storm which they were sure was right behind the first one. Once the equipment was packed away and tied down the team headed for some much deserved ice cream.

Wooster Geologist in Ohio!

December 16th, 2009

CAESAR CREEK STATE PARK, OHIO–I’ve definitely extended my field season as far as possible.  (And what a season it has been.)  My last fieldwork at the end of this research leave was in Ohio, about three hours south of Wooster.  I visited Caesar Creek State Park this morning where a large cut through an Upper Ordovician section has been set aside as a fossil preserve of sorts.  It is an emergency spillway for Caesar Creek Lake, which is maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  Many Wooster paleontology field trips have stopped here.  Fossils can be collected, but only with a permit (obtained at the visitor center) and following significant regulations.  The fossils are diverse and abundant, including all the stars of the Ordovician seafloor.

My task was to find, photograph and measure an old trace fossil friend: the boring Petroxestes pera.  This is a slot-shaped excavation in carbonate hard substrates formed by bivalves (probably in this case the modiomorphid Corallidomus).

The boring Petroxestes pera (the name means "purse-shaped rock-grinding") in a hardground at Caesar Creek State Park.

The boring Petroxestes pera (the name means "purse-shaped rock-grinding") in a hardground at Caesar Creek State Park.

These elongated holes are among the first bivalve borings.  Some of my students and I think they may have been formed in clusters, and they also may be oriented relative to each other and their local environment.  In any case, I found plenty.  It was an astonishingly cold morning, though, so I didn’t waste any time on the outcrop!

Yes, this photo is here mainly to show just how tough Wooster Geologists are.  And there are some very nice brachiopods and bryozoans!

Yes, this photo is here mainly to show just how tough Wooster Geologists are. And there are some very nice brachiopods and bryozoans!

You know that your field season is over …

December 16th, 2009

... when your car is well frosted.

... when your car is well frosted.

... and your outcrop looks like this!  (Whitewater Formation, emergency spillway at Caesar Creek State Park, Ohio; N39.47808°, W84.05981°)

... and your outcrop looks like this! (Whitewater Formation, Upper Ordovician, emergency spillway at Caesar Creek State Park, Ohio; N39.47808°, W84.05981°)

Tree Ring Dating of Revolutionary War (and some later) Buildings in PA and OH

June 7th, 2009

crew3This summer the Wooster Tree Ring Lab is funded by the College of Wooster’s Center for Entrepreneurship to date buildings of historical interest using tree rings. The crew in this endeavor is shown above and includes – Dr. Greg Wiles, students Kelly Aughenbaugh and Colin Mennett, and Nick Weisenberg who is a timber-framer and works in building restoration. The demand for our service has been excellent and is concentrated in the Pittsburgh area, locally in Kidron, Ohio and now in the Cincinnati area. We can use our archive of tree-ring data and lots of hard work by our staff to tell homeowners, folks at historical sites, historical archaeologists etc. the year timber was cut prior to building the structure. The tools of the trade are shown below. We will tell you a bit about the results of our work soon.

Below: The gear pile includes standard powertools and generators along with specialized dry wood bits. Nick illustrates the proper coring technique. This historic building is Woodville PA – the oak beams that he is coring were cut in the fall or winter of 1785.

gear4tst8

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