Environmental Science Field Work In The Winter? Why Not!
EGS major Chris Callinan begin his research project this semester with a
little field work. Chis is studying the record of atmospheric lead
deposition recorded in the sediments of a local wetland. To get at
these sediments Chris needed to take some sediment cores. Normally this
would require waders or a boat, but it's actually a lot easier when the
wetland is frozen over! Chris, together with his research advisor, Dr.
John Rayburn from the Geology Department, went to get the cores at
Louisa Pond in Scenic Hudson's Shaupeneak Ridge Park.
With snowshoes and sleds they carried their equipment into the wetland
at the south end of the lake where they cut a hole through nearly two
feet of ice. A first core was taken using a Russian Peat Borer which
collects the sediment samples half a meter at a time. With the borer
Chris was able to sample down through 4.5 meters of organic material.
Then, for a sampling technique with a little more muscle, they set up
the vibracorer. This device uses vibration to sink a 3 inch tube
through the sediments and capture a continuous sample. The vibracorer
sank the tube 9 meters until it would go no further. This core went
trough all the organic material and lake sediments and ended in glacial
till. This means that the core contains an environmental record that
goes back to the end of the ice age.
Chris is currently preparing his samples for lead concentration analysis
which he will do using flame atomic absorption spectrometery in the
Chemistry Department. The results should show the history of
atmospheric lead deposition, including the use of leaded gasoline, in
the Hudson Valley.