Wooster Geologists return to the Cedar Creek Bog and Excavation Site

October 25th, 2014

DigOverview102514WOOSTER, OHIO–Greg Wiles and I got to experience a bit of field archaeology today at the Cedar Creek Mastodon excavation site. Greg’s Climate change class has visited the site and its associated bog twice this semester: once to do some soil probing and exploration, and then again to extract a core from the bog. This time Greg and I went to consult with the chief archaeologist of the site, Nigel Brush of Ashland University. Nigel wanted our opinions on the stratigraphy of the dig, especially those parts associated with mastodon remains and flint artifacts. The hypothesis the archaeologists are testing is that the mastodon bones and flint blades are part of an ancient butchery site.  It was a joy to join our friends on this fantastic Fall day.

BonesFlagged102514Who doesn’t love an archaeology site? All that enthusiastic hard work with brushes, spades and trowels revealing hidden treasures. Those little orange flags above are tagging bits of mastodon bone that the volunteer excavators have uncovered for mapping and collection. Several schools are represented at this site, and at least a couple dozen citizen scientists.

HannahJim102514Wooster is represented at the dig by archaeology professor Nick Kardulias, along with two of his students shown above. Hannah Matulek is on the left; Jim Torpy on the right.

BoneFragment102514Here is some mastodon bone embedded in one of the excavation walls. The bones are scattered, with some large pieces and many small fragments.

Sieving102514This is the line of sieves for sorting through the excavated sediment. Pleasant enough work today, but I can imagine it’s not so fun in the rain and sleet.

GregSoilProbing102514And now for our bit of work. Greg went off into the bog with a soil probe to plan out a new trench to be dug by the landowner. This trench will help correlate the strata in the excavation with what Greg and his students have cored from the bog.

StratView102514I spent most of my time in the excavations examining the simple layering of the sediments. At the bottom we have a coarse conglomerate with cobble-sized rounded grains. The bones and artifacts lie on top of and among these clasts. Above that unit is a matrix-supported conglomeratic mud with broken rock fragments. At the top is a loam representing the disturbed (plowed) part of the section.

MudWithClasts102514This is a closer view of that middle unit with the “floating” angular rock fragments. My quick assessment (just a suggestion!) is that the coarse gravels beneath are part of a deltaic complex feeding into the bog, which was at the time a marl lake. The mud-with-clasts above it is a debris flow from the surrounding elevations that cascaded down the creek channel and its banks, entombing the bones and artifacts under a slurry of muddy debris. There is scattered charcoal throughout this unit and the top of the cobbles below. Maybe a forest fire denuded the upstream slopes and led to a rain-soaked mudslide? Then again, the charcoal could have come from an ancient barbecue of the mastodon meat.

In any case, Greg and I had a great time visiting our archaeological colleagues on such a fine day.

 

Dating Houses and Reconstructing Climate

September 22nd, 2014

porchThe Wooster Geology Climate Change class spent a beautiful fall day in Stony Creek, Ohio coring beams in three structures of historical significance. They will determine the cut dates (calendar dates when the timber for the houses were felled) for the homeowners and then examine the tree-ring data that results to help reconstruct drought for the region. The class will write a report for the homeowner as part of the project. The Wooster tree-ring lab has dated over 50 buildings. Many of the reports are archived here.

willy2

Willy coring a hand hewn beam with an increment borer in the basement of one of the structures.

dan

Dan cores into the white oak beam as Meredith keeps the utilities at bay.

 julia

Julia identifies the outer (bark year) rings of a large oak beam and sets the spoon to extract the core.

haloMeredith and Haley team up to extract another core from a structure.

mounting2Zach shows how the 5 mm core is mounted in a slotted core mount.

coreSarah glues the carefully oriented core into the mount.

mounting

Orienting the core properly is crucial for the next step of sanding the surface. This interdisciplinary group of historians, archaeologists, communication studies and geologists will learn bit about history of Ohio while learning some of the statistics of climate change and earning a Q (quantitative) course credit.

houseThe group should be able to determine when the timber was cut to build this restored structure. Sometime in early November the analyses should be completed.

extra_coringSome extracurricular coring of young white pines in the area.

Experiential Learning on Ice (with some water)

January 19th, 2014

Tom Lowell, Aaron Diefendorf and four students from the University of Cincinnati met up with the Wooster Geologists to core Browns Lake. We thank Marvin Sandy, who manages the bog for the Nature Conservancy for guidance and permission to do this work.
coresite

Coring Browns Lake from an ice platform on a winters day in Northeast Ohio. Four cores were taken – the longest of which was 17 meters. The mud in the cores is a record of 15,000 years of environmental change since the last Ice Age.
Browns Lake Bog is own by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and managed by the Nature Conservancy.

Browns Lake Bog is owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and managed by the Nature Conservancy.

pitcher

Pitcher plants are among the special biology of the bog. Note the ice forming within the pitcher.

auger

First a hole is augured to determine water depth in the basin. It is about 5 feet deep with 4-6 inches of ice.

A look at the drilling rig - anchored in the ice, tied down with ice screws.

A look at the drilling rig – anchored in the ice, tied down with ice screws and straps.

 

pipe

A look down the long axis of the drill pipe – note the corer sticking out of the ice stored in the lake to prevent it from freezing. The water is the warmest place on the site.

Tom explains the theory and Doug and Nick move into the practice phase.

Tom, the core boss,  explains the theory and Doug and Nick move into the practice phase.

humor

Tom and Michael share a coring joke – it help to have a sense of humor standing on ice for 6 hours at 15 degrees F with a breeze.

meter

Another meter of core is brought up – ready to be described, wrapped and archived. About half of the 40 meters of core went to Cincinnati for further analyses.

Lunch on the boardwalk

Lunch on the boardwalk

oscar_andy

Oscar and Andy take a break from the core archiving. Note the water that moves up through the hole in the ice. The weight of the rig and crew cause elastic and some plastic deformation to occur – after the rig is removed the ice slowly pops back into shape.

The last of the gear moves to the parking lot.

The last of the gear moves to the parking lot.

Thanks to Jesse Wiles for the photography.

The geese point the way back to Wooster. Thanks to Jesse Wiles for the photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wooster geologist’s summer research experience in The Bahamas: Sarah Bender (’15) and climate and sea level change over the past 6,000 years

August 20th, 2013

SB coverSarah Bender (’15) and Sarah Frederick (’15) had the opportunity this summer to complete National Science Foundation funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs). Each spent a good part of their summer completing a research project under the mentorship of accomplished and enthusiastic geologists. Sarah Bender (on the left above) worked under the mentorship of Dr. Lisa Park Boush (’88, center in the photo), a geology professor at the University of Akron, and Kristina Brady (’03, on the right), a curator at the University of Minnesota. A Wooster geology team! This is Sarah’s summer research story in her words and images. (Sarah Frederick’s story is in the previous post.)

This summer I had the pleasure of working with a group of seven interns and four mentors on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas and at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Duluth. For two weeks at the beginning of June, we cored three Bahamian lakes, two being blue holes and the other a coastal pond. The goal of this Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) was to determine the anthropogenic changes that took place in the past thousands of years in the Bahamas by using proxy data from these lakes. The project was led by a Wooster graduate, Dr. Lisa Park Boush (’88), who like myself, was one of Dr. Mark Wilson’s advisees. One of the other mentors, Kristina Brady, also graduated from Wooster (2003) as Dr. Wiles’ advisee, and is now working at LacCore at the University of Minnesota as a curator.

My team worked on the first blue hole, which we named Duck Pond Blue Hole. Duck Pond Blue Hole is an inland circular body of brackish water located in the southern tip of Eleuthera Island. We hypothesize that there are underground conduits connecting the blue hole to the ocean due to the salinity and the fact that the water level was affected by tides. Cores were taken with hand-operated corers from three different spots along a transect of the lake. Overall, my team recovered over four meters of sediment from the three sites! We also took bathymetry data, depth profiles, and did a vegetation survey around the perimeter of Duck Pond Blue Hole.

SB-1a

Myself, a teammate, and Kristina Brady (’03) capping a core from Duck Pond Blue Hole. Check out our mighty coring vessel!

The other team of interns worked on a coastal pond, located directly behind one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. They cored the pond at three sites and took similar lake profiling data as my team. They also worked on dune profiles with Dr. Ilya Buynevich from Temple University using his GPR machine.

SB-2

The other team of interns worked on a coastal pond, located directly behind one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. They cored the pond at three sites and took similar lake profiling data as my team. They also worked on dune profiles with Dr. Ilya Buynevich from Temple University using his GPR machine.

The rest of the time on Eleuthera was spent exploring the island and learning about its history. We took two day-long field trips in which we saw many geological features as well as archaeological sites. With the help of Dr. Perry Gnivecki and Dr. Mary Jane Berman, both from Miami University, we learned all about the native inhabitants of the Bahamas, the Lucayans. We hope our project will help them understand how they were affected by climate change and the landing of Columbus in 1492. Finally, we got to present our preliminary results to the people of the Bahamas at the Cape Eleuthera Institute.

SB-2.5

My teammates and I presenting Duck Pond Blue Hole at CEI.

After finishing fieldwork, we headed to LacCore, the National Lacustrine Core Repository, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis to analyze our data. We logged, split, photographed, and described our cores first. We also did a variety of lab work with core samples such as, carbon-14 dating, SEM, loss on ignition, making smear slides, and shell counts. We also got to work at the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth, Minnesota using the XRF machine and doing grain size analysis.

SB-3

Myself and a teammate prepping samples for grain size analysis at the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth.

This lab work took about six weeks to complete and we got some amazing results from it. We used the last few days in Minnesota to write our abstracts and make posters for upcoming conferences. Each person took one aspect of our project to focus on. My abstract and poster focuses on the mollusk communities of Duck Pond Blue Hole and how they may be an indicator for climate and sea level change in the Bahamas over the past 6,000 years.

In order to discover what we found, you will have to visit my teammates at GSA in Denver in October or AGU in San Francisco in December. I hope to be able to make it to the AGU conference to help present my team’s work, however, I won’t be presenting my individual abstract until the spring at a regional GSA meeting. If you want to read more on the project, check out the REU Bahamas page on Facebook or the daily blog we kept throughout the project. Now, it’s off to Byron Bay, Australia, for me! I hope everyone had a great summer and I wish you all a successful fall semester!

Dr. Michael Mann visits Wooster

March 28th, 2013

MichaelMann032713WOOSTER, OHIO–We were honored this week when Dr. Michael E. Mann, one of the world’s foremost climate-change experts and a leader in the efforts to educate the public about anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere, came to Wooster as part of our Richard G. Osgood, Jr., Memorial Lecture series. He gave a public lecture in the nearly-full Gault Recital Hall Wednesday evening (“The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines”), and then a Geology Club lecture the next day in Scovel (“The Past as Prologue: Learning from the Climate Changes in Past Centuries”). Students, faculty and staff of the Geology Department also had a wonderfully informative dinner with him in the Wooster Inn.

Michael Mann is very well known in the diverse community that studies climate change in the past, present and future. He was the senior author of a pivotal article in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001. It set the direction for more than a decade of later climate research. He has written dozens of other papers and two books on climate change. He has received numerous awards, most recently the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union.

The public Osgood lecture Dr. Mann presented on Wednesday was centered on his latest book. He described the recent scientific history of climate change research and then how he became an “accidental public figure” through the famous “Climategate” theft and publication of private email messages. His stories of attempted congressional interference in his work and that of other climate scientists were astonishing, representing what he calls “the scientization of politics” (where science — or pseudoscience — is used as a political tool).

The image at the top of the page is Dr. Mann near the end of his Osgood Lecture. The image on the screen is of his daughter enjoying a moment in the polar bear pool at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. He fears that someday such animals will be found only in zoos because humans “melted their Arctic environment.” Numerous questions and conversations followed.
MannLecture032813Dr. Mann gave a Geology Club presentation this morning in Scovel Hall on some of his scientific work (shown above). He talked about using proxies to model historical climate change and then predict future climate.
WilesMann032813For me one of the best moments was his conversation with Greg Wiles in our dendrochronology lab (above). It was great fun to see how the work of Wooster Geologists is part of the unfolding grand story of what factors control our climate, and why such research is critical in our efforts to cope with future changes.

Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: Sponge and clam borings that revealed an ancient climate event (Upper Pleistocene of The Bahamas)

September 11th, 2011

This week’s fossils celebrate the publication today of a paper in Nature Geoscience that has been 20 years in the making. The title is: “Sea-level oscillations during the Last Interglacial highstand recorded by Bahamas coral”, and the senior author is the geochronological wizard Bill Thompson (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). The junior authors are my Smith College geologist friends Al Curran and Brian White and me.

The paper’s thesis is best told with an explanation of this 2006 image:
This photograph was taken on the island of Great Inagua along the coast. The flat dark surface in the foreground is the top of a fossil coral reef (“Reef I”) formed during the Last Interglacial (LIG) about 123,000 years ago. It was eroded down to this flat surface when sea-level dropped, exposing the reef to waves and eventually terrestrial weathering. The student sitting on this surface is Emily Ann Griffin (’07), one of three I.S. students who helped with parts of this project. (The others were Allison Cornett (’00) and Ann Steward (’07).) Behind Emily Ann is a coral accumulation of a reef (“Reef II”) that grew on the eroded surface after sea-level rose again about 119,000 years ago. These two reefs show, then, that sea-level dropped for about 4000 years, eroding the first reef, and then rose again to its previous level, allowing the second reef to grow. (You can see an unlabeled version of the photograph here.) The photograph at the top of this post is a small version of the same surface.

The significance of this set of reefs is that the erosion surface separating them can be seen throughout the world as evidence of a rapid global sea-level event during the Last Interglacial. Because the LIG had warm climatic conditions similar to what we will likely experience in the near future, it is crucial to know how something as important as sea-level may respond. The only way sea-level can fluctuate like this is if glacial ice volume changes, meaning there must have been an interval of global cooling (producing greater glacial ice volume) that lowered sea-level about 123,000 years ago, and then global warming (melting the ice) that raised it again within 4000 years. As we write in the paper, “This is of great scientific and societal interest because the LIG has often been cited as an analogue for future sea-level change. Estimates of LIG sea-level change, which took place in a world warmer than that of today, are crucial for estimates of future rates of rise under IPCC warming scenarios.” With our evidence we can show a magnitude and timing of an ancient sea-level fluctuation due to climate change.

Much of the paper concerns the dating techniques and issues (which is why Bill Thompson, the essential geochronologist, is the primary author). It is the dating of the corals that makes the story globally useful and significant. Here, though, I want to tell how the surface was discovered in the first place. It is a paleontological tale.

In the summer of 1991 I worked with Al Curran and Brian White on San Salvador Island in The Bahamas. They were concentrating on watery tasks that involved scuba diving, boats and the like, while I stayed on dry land (my preferred environment by far). I explored a famous fossil coral exposure called the Cockburntown Reef (Upper Pleistocene, Eemian) that Brian and Al had carefully mapped out over the past decade. The Bahamian government had recently authorized a new harbor on that part of the coastline and a large section of the fossil reef was dynamited away. The Cockburntown Reef now had a very fresh exposure in the new excavation quite different from the blackened part of the old reef we were used to. Immediately visible was a horizontal surface running through the reef marked by large clam borings called Gastrochaenolites (see below) and small borings (Entobia) made by clionaid sponges (see the image at the top of this post).
Inside the borings were long narrow bivalve shells belonging to the species Coralliophaga coralliophaga (which means “coral eater”; see below) and remnants of an ancient terrestrial soil (a paleosol). This surface was clearly a wave-cut platform later buried under a tropical soil.


My colleagues and I could trace this surface into the old, undynamited part of the Cockburntown Reef, then to other Eemian reefs on San Salvador, and then to other Bahamian islands like Great Inagua in the far south. Eventually this proved to be a global erosion surface described or at least mentioned in many papers, but its significance as an indicator of rapid eustatic sea-level fall and rise was heretofore unrecognized. Finally getting uranium-thorium radioactive dates on the corals above and below the erosion surface placed this surface in a time framework and ultimately as part of the history of global climate change.

This project began 20 years ago with the discovery of small holes left in an eroded surface by humble sponges and clams. Another example of the practical value of paleontology.

References:

Thompson, W.G., Curran, H.A., Wilson, M.A. and White, B. 2011. Sea-level oscillations during the Last Interglacial highstand recorded by Bahamas coral. Nature Geoscience (DOI: 10.1038/NGEO1253).

White, B.H., Curran, H.A. and Wilson, M.A. 1998. Bahamian coral reefs yield evidence of a brief sea-level lowstand during the last interglacial. Carbonates and Evaporites 13: 10-22.

Wilson, M.A., Curran, H.A. and White, B. 1998. Paleontological evidence of a brief global sea-level event during the last interglacial. Lethaia 31: 241-250.

Non-stationarity in climatic response of coastal tree species along the Gulf of Alaska (Senior Independent Study Thesis by Stephanie Jarvis)

April 15th, 2011

The crew in their XtraTufs. From L-R: Stephanie, Deb, Dan, and Greg.

Editor’s note: Senior Independent Study (I.S.) is a year-long program at The College of Wooster in which each student completes a research project and thesis with a faculty mentor.  We particularly enjoy I.S. in the Geology Department because there are so many cool things to do for both the faculty advisor and the student.  We are now posting abstracts of each study as they become available.  The following was written by Stephanie Jarvis, a senior geology and biology double major from Shelbyville, KY.  Here is a link to Stephanie’s final PowerPoint presentation on this project as a movie file (which can be paused at any point). You can see earlier blog posts from her field work by clicking the Alaska tag to the right.

For my IS field work I traveled to Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, Alaska with my geology advisor, Greg Wiles.  Our field crew also consisted of Deb Prinkey (’01), Dan Lawson (CRREL), and Justin Smith, captain of the RV Capelin.  My focus was on sampling mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana (Bong.) Carrière) at treeline sites to study climate response and forest health using tree ring analysis.  While in Glacier Bay, we also sampled interstadial wood (from forests run over from the glaciers that were now being exposed on the shore) and did some maintenance work on Dan’s climate stations throughout the park.  Back in the lab, Wooster junior Sarah Appleton kept me company and helped me out with some of the tree-ring processing, as did Nick Wiesenberg.

The view from treeline.

An interstadial wood stump, in place. The glacier ran over this tree and buried it in sediment, which is now being washed away.

Site map

I ended up processing cores from only one of the three sites I sampled this summer (the others can be fodder for future projects!).  In addition, I used data from several other sites sampled in previous years.  My data consisted of 3 mountain hemlock sites forming an elevational transect along Beartrack Mountain in Glacier Bay (one described by Alex Trutko ’08), 3 mountain hemlock sites at varying elevations from the mountains around Juneau, AK, and 2 Alaskan yellow-cedar sites (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis (D. Don) Spach) from Glacier Bay used by Colin Mennett (’10).   My purpose was to look into the assumption of stationarity in growth response to climate of trees over time and changing climatic conditions.  According to the Alaska Climate Research Center, this part of AK as warmed 1.8°C over the past 50 years.

Tree-ring base climate reconstructions are important in our understanding of climatic variations and are a main temperature proxy in IPCC’s 2007 report on climate change.  Climate reconstruction is based on the premise that trees at a site are responding to the same environmental variables today that they always have (thus, they are stationary in their response), allowing for the reconstruction of climatic variables using today’s relationship between annual growth and climate.

Greg coring a tree at treeline.

Crossdating using patterns of variations in ring width.

Temperature reconstructions using different proxies, including tree-rings, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report.

Recent observations, such as divergence (the uncoupling of long-term trends in temperature and annual growth) and worldwide warming-induced tree mortality, suggest that this assumption of stationarity may not be valid in some cases.  Using mean monthly temperature and precipitation data from Sitka, AK that begin in the 1830s, I compared correlations of annual growth in mountain hemlock to climate at different elevations over time.  My results indicate that mountain hemlocks at low elevations are experiencing a negative change in response to warm temperatures with time, whereas those at high elevations are experiencing a release in growth with warming.  Low-elevation correlation patterns are similar to those of lower-elevation Alaskan yellow-cedar, which is currently in decline due to early loss of protective snowpack with warming.  An increasing positive trend in correlation to April precipitation and mountain hemlock growth indicates that spring snowpack may be playing an increased role in mountain hemlock growth as temperatures warm.  The high elevation mountain hemlock trends suggest the possibility of tree-line advance, though I was not able to determine if regeneration past the current treeline is occurring.  Tree at mid-elevation sites seem to be the least affected by non-stationarity, remaining relatively constant in their growth response throughout the studied time period.  This indicates that reconstructions using mid-elevation sites are likely to be more accurate, as the climatic variable they are sensitive to is not as likely to have changed over time.

Cedar chronologies (green lines) compared to temperature (brown line). Bar graph represents correlation coefficients between annual ring width and temperature, with colors corresponding to labels on the chronologies (orange is lowest elevation PI, blue is higher elevation ER). Asterisks represent significant correlations. Note that the relationship has changed from being positive at ER during the Little Ice Age to negative by the second half of the 20th century.

Mountain hemlock chronologies (green lines) compared to temperature (brown line). The top graph is of the Glacier Bay sites, the bottom is of the Juneau sites. Red represents the low elevation sites, green the mid-elevation, and purple the high elevation. Note that the low elevation sites are decreasing in correlation as the cedars have, while the high elevation sites have experienced a release in growth with warming.

 

Theory to Practice on Ice

February 1st, 2011

A group from the Wooster community, the University of Cincinnati, The College of Wooster and St. Lawrence University assembled in Wooster for the weekend to mount an expedition to recover many meters of lake mud from the bottom of Round and Long Lakes in Ashland County, Ohio.



Dr. Lowell goes over the theory.

The practice consists of extracting meters of mud from the lake bottom.

Steph takes the vital notes on each meter (left). Lindsey (right) steps up to core another hole in the 6 inch-thick ice.

After a day coring Round Lake the team moved onto Long Lake and targeted the upper several meters of sediment to be analyzed by Jon Theisen for his senior IS in Archaeology. Jon hopes to shed some light on the environmental changes that occurred approximately 1500 years ago during the end of the Hopewell era in Ohio.

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.

Thraspberry Thrashing

June 14th, 2010

All of us by the Bartlett River.

guest blogger: Stephanie

It’s been a full week! On Monday, Justin (the captain) and Tom (captain of another boat who Justin was training for the Capelin) took all of us around to climate stations Dan maintains throughout the park to offload data and repair any snow/bear damage. We went up the West Arm and saw several beautiful glaciers. We stayed that night at the Russell Cove raft, a raft for researchers (not all of us fit…so we got to sleep on the island!). Greg found a new toy.

Greg, Deb, & Dan hard at work at a climate station.

The well-used "ursabahn" by one of the stations.

The Wooster flag in the West Arm.

Free ice! Justin nets a couple small icebergs for the cooler.

Home sweet home--the researchers' raft.

A new toy for Greg.

Tuesday the Capelin’s unidentified mechanical problems seemed to worsen, so the day was called off and Greg and I were dropped off at Sandy Cove. As we drove in, we scared a moose off the coast, and not long after a black bear came rolling long grazing on the grass. We got a late start (and subsequently a very late finish…) up Mount Wright. After about 4-5 hours of nothing in view but thorny brambles and devil’s club (which I am still picking out of my hands), we finally made it to the top of one of the ridges to find a beautiful landscape of karren limestone outcrops, snow, and mountain hemlocks. We made a quick side trip to the nearest top (~3000 ft) just for fun, looked down on a goat (always a good sign), and then got to work. It was 8 or 9 before we finished sampling, so we took an express route down and had a nice walk in the almost dark along the coast (every boulder looked like a bear…). Along the way we came across an awesome tufa waterfall, where the water was coming out through the limestone and precipitating (like in a cave). Unfortunately, it was too dark to get a good picture.

A welcome view.

Mushrooms! In the snow!

Steph at 3000 ft.

Greg at 3000 ft, with the Beardslees in the background.

The next day we walked along the river looking for interstadial wood (trees that were run over by glaciers and then buried). We didn’t find any, but we did find a good lunch spot, where we could ponder over the delta sediments the stream was cutting through and later piece it with the lake sediments farther up. The glacier, when it came down to the mouth of this valley, had blocked it off and formed a lake here.

An interesting outcrop (I know, I know, no scale. I think the bushes are ~4-6 ft.)

A relaxing lunch (we earned it!).

A nicely stuck boulder.

Meanwhile, Deb, Dan, and Justin were trying to get our boat situation worked out. The Capelin was pronounced ok, but quickly showed it wasn’t, and they were able to negotiate using a different one. The Petrel was much speedier than the Capelin, but required a ladder to get in and out on shore and didn’t like rough water very much. They met up with us at Sandy Cove on Wednesday and joined us in the ranger raft that was there (much like the researchers’ raft, without the star wars sheets…).

Thursday was another, very buggy, climate station, and then Gieke Inlet, where they had some radiocarbon dates on interstadial wood going back 3000 yrs. The particular outwash we were in had, according to Dan, been formed in a couple days of rain in November of 2005, so it was pretty rich with wood being weathered out.

Dryas patches in Gieke Inlet--the first plant to move in once the glaciers recede.

We came back to Gustavus Thursday night (showers!!!), and went out with Tom on Friday, again looking for interstadial wood. We went to Willoughby Island, where we found some really cool layers of peaty organics under gray silt/clay under gravely glacial sediments. Bad weather rolling in made it an early day, and that night we went to open mic night at the pizza place, where I realized just how much talent could be squeezed into a little town like Gustavus.

A stump (spruce, we think) in growth position at Willoughby Island.

Dan left Saturday morning, and more bad weather resulted in the calling off of our plans to go to Pleasant Island to look at Cedars stripped by the natives (the Tlingit). Instead, we went kayaking in the Beardlees and got hammered by some rain and hard wind. Much fun! The night was topped off by our housemates, sea otter researches with USGS, bringing back a huge king salmon they had caught (they forced me to try some…). Yesterday we made the trek up Excursion Ridge, where we got to see the new hydroelectric dam that is now powering Gustavus and do some slip and sliding on the steep snow patches. Got lots of good samples, and came back to find out the otter folks had caught another king salmon. They happily shared again :)

The dam that powers Gustavus.

Lunch...I'm sensing a pattern here...

Flowers! On the way up we came across several meadows and bogs.

A good view of Gustavus.

This morning, it’s back to Juneau. Mendenhall glacier is in the plans, as is a look around town. It’s back to Wooster on Wednesday.

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