Research in Lake Champlain Valley
EGS Major Kate Lawrence's research at the Westport, NY landslide (see 8/17/2009 post) was given a big boost last week when it was included as part of Dr. Rayburn's Champlain Valley drilling project. The project, sponsored by the United States Geological Survey (U.S. Department of the Interior) provided Dr. Rayburn with a hollow stem drill rig capable of taking research grade cores through more than 100 feet of sediment. The overall goal of the project is to study the sedimentary and paleontological records of the region at the end of the last glaciation. Kate's initial field work had identified the field in Westport as potentially containing an excellent sedimentary record of this important time period, so it was given priority as one of five Champlain Valley locations drilled by the USGS for the study. Kate had estimated about 100 feet of material over bedrock, and the landslide exposed escarpment showed that it was clay at the top. Clay is the best source for the paleo-environmental records that Dr. Rayburn is interested in.
The core that was taken from this site contained 80 feet of clay (originally deposited in a glacial lake and the Champlain Sea) above till (material deposited directly by the glacier). According to Kate's estimates, then, there is probably 20 feet of till under the clay. The core is now back at SUNY New Paltz, being kept cold and fresh in the core storage cooler, and Kate has begun opening it to record the sediments and search for the important fossil record. She will present her findings at the end of this semester.
Press release of the Champlain Valley drilling project: