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Stone Paleolimnology Laboratory People 2012-2013 Coring at St. Mary of the Woods

Our laboratory specializes in using fossil and modern diatom assemblages to reconstruct past lake and river environments. Undergraduate student research projects in the lab currently include studying the effects of acid mine drainage on lake and river ecosystems and reconstructing the effects of industrial and domestic pollution on lakes and rivers throughout Indiana. Graduate projects range from the Rocky Mountains to East Africa and cover periods from as recent as the last century to as long as 6 million years ago.

Long-term research objectives for the laboratory include development of the diatom paleoecology from Hominid Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project, which seeks to obtain sediment cores from several of the most important fossil hominin and early Paleolithic artifact sites in the world, located in Kenya and Ethiopia. Additional research objectives in Africa include analysis of paleolake Mababe (Botswana), and developing research for drilling Lake Tanganyika. Continuing lake research in North America ranges from the Rocky Mountains to Alaska. 

HSPDP: Afar ICD Trip and Turkana Diatoms

Graduate student Sabrina Brown has spent the past 2 weeks at the LacCore facility at UMN, working with researchers from the Afar component of the HSPDP collecting samples, splitting cores, logging cores, and after putting in relentless 12-hour days in the lab, she has returned with about 800 low-resolution diatom samples from the Afar cores and nearly 3000 high-resolution diatom samples collected from diatomites in the Afar, Baringo, and Turkana cores.

Meanwhile, back at the ISU Paleolimnology Lab, undergraduate and graduate student researchers have been pushing to get the samples collected from the Lake Turkana cores processed and made into slides. Graduate student Matt Brindle is just now starting to make the initial scan through the slides and has found a few examples of endemic species. Shown above is a diatom closely related to Surirella turkanensis, which has an odd feature where it curls near both apices.

Chain O'Lakes State Park

Graduate student Jase Hixson and his field crew including undergraduates Alan McCune and Nick Spendal went to Chain O'Lakes to collect a long core (Boliva) from Long Lake. While there, Jase gave a presentation to the park's staff over his initial findings from the 9 short cores he collected along the length of the park in the fall of 2013. The park has been experiencing severe cyanobacteria blooms over the past decade or so, and Jase's research looks to explore the potential causes and consequences of nutrient cycling in these flow-through lake systems.

The trip was the first true test of the ISU Paleolimnology Lab's (designed and built) coring platform (known in the lab as "Zelda" or "Tri-force" because of its triangular design). The coring platform (shown above) is modular - it breaks into 4 folding triangular elements, each supported by their own inner tube - and has a moon pool opening and can be anchored from each point of the triangle to create a stable coring surface that can fit into the back of a hatchback along with a 3-person inflatable Zodiac.

GSA North Central Meeting 2014

The ISU Paleolimnology Lab group was represented by one graduate student (Matthew Brindle) and two undergraduate students (Kendra Reininga and Alan McCune) at this year's Annual Meeting of the North-Central Section of Geological Society of America.

Matthew (shown left) presented some preliminary diatom data on his research from two lake cores collected on last summer's trip to Glacier National Park. The focus of the research is Holocene changes in mixing depth, reconstructed from fossil diatom assemblages in the lakes.

Alan and Kendra presented the first look at their cores from Shakamak State Park, Indiana, which were collected earlier this spring from the frozen surfaces of Lenape and Shakamak Reservoirs. Despite these impoundments having similiar origins, the cores show remarkably different histories for the last 50 years, indicating the influence of differences in land use and water source origins. Their poster can be viewed online here.

Crossroads Conference 2014

Graduate students in the lab, Jase Hixson and Matt Brindle, had poster presentations at this year's Crossroads Conference, which takes place in Bloomington at Indiana University. Jase presented an update on his research at Chain O'Lakes State Park, including the diatom stratigraphy from 4 short cores from lakes along a transect through the park. For those of you who missed the conference, the full poster can be viewed here. Some of his initial conclusions are that over time, nutrient levels within the lakes have increased due to agriculture and possibly contamination from the on-site corrections facility.

Matthew Brindle was a co-author on a poster presented by Nicole Terrell. Nicole is developing the geochemistry of the lake sediments from Cosley Lake, in Glacier National Park. The main thrust of Nicole's research is to explore different states of phosphorus in the lake sediments and potentially to relate them to erosion and diatom productivity in the lake through the late Holocene.

Wabashiki - Coring Trip

We took the new Livingstone sediment corer out for a twirl in the Wabashiki Wetland area recently. Two undergraduate researchers from our lab (Cory Portwood & Kendra Reininga) and one from Jennifer Latimer's lab (Zachary Nickerson) went out recently to collect sediment cores.

These short, peat-topped cores are part of some student research investigating the influence of urban areas on wetland sediment chemistry. This research, led by Zachary Nickerson, is analyzing several sites around the Wabashiki wetland area, exploring for Lead and other elements that might be present in unusually high concentrations in the sediment.

Additional cores will be collected in the wetlands around Goose Pond near Linton, Indiana to provide some context for these more urban wetlands. The results from these cores are to be compared against previous research from the nearby International Paper Holding Pond to see how the sediment chemistry differs.

Recent Publications

Work with Courtney Wigdahl over the past couple years has just resulted in new publication entitled "The influence of basin morphometry on the regional coherence of patterns of diatom-inferred salinity in lakes of the northern Great Plains (USA)" - this article looks at a set of Great Plains lakes in the same region that show variable responses through time to similar climate signals because of the interaction of changing salinity and depth with lake basin morphometry.

Shakamak State Park - Coring Trip

In late January, student researchers from the ISU Paleolimnology Lab went out for their first fieldwork on a frozen lake surface to collect cores from Shakamak, Lenape, and Kickapoo Reservoirs, located near Jasonville, IN. Ice on the reservoirs was about 6 inches thick. Griffith cores were recovered from Shakamak and Lenape Reservoirs, spanning about 70 cms and a short surface core was taken from Kickapoo, using the HTH corer.

These cores will are currently being processed and will be analyzed by undergraduate student researchers Alan McCune and Kendra Reininga through the spring semester. Alan and Kendra will be analyzing the sediment for fossil diatoms to explore the history of sedimentation and eutrophication of the region. Shakamak and Lenape Reservoirs were both built around the same time and impounded water outflows from both of these systems into the Kickapoo Reservoir, which was built significantly later. The history of the reservoirs and the changes in water quality through time are of interest to park managers who need to be able to assess how the water quality has changed through changes in land use. Both students are planning to present their results at the North-Central Section of Geological Society of America, held later this spring in Lincoln, Nebraska.