ISU Paleolimnology Laboratory

The ISU Paleolimnology Laboratory was established at Indiana State University in the Fall of 2012 and has quickly swollen in personnel. We currently have 2 graduate students proposing diatom paleoecological research in the Rocky Mountains and eutrophication and nutrient cycling studies in northeastern Indiana, and 8 undergraduate students working on research projects from around Indiana. This year we also have a visiting scholar from Brazil.

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.

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. 

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.

LacCore Visit - East African Lakes

Graduate students from the ISU Paleolimnology Lab, Jase Hixson and Matt Brindle, traveled to the the LacCore facility in the middle of November to help process and sample the cores from Lake Turkana. This is the first in a series of paleolake cores taken from the East African Rift Valley that are part of the HSPDP research grant. Over the next 5 years, the ISU Paleolimnology Lab will be analyzing the diatom records from several paleolakes from East Africa, including some paleolakes located in Ethiopia and Kenya.

The diatom record from the Lake Turkana core will likely provide significant clues about the climate changes that may have affected human evolution. We will begin analyzing this core in the spring of 2014, and this research will form a significant part of Matt's dissertation. The Lake Turkana core was over 200 meters long and was sampled every 32 cms, produce about 700 diatom slides to be analyzed.

In December, members from our lab will be returning to the LacCore facility at the University of Minnesota to collect additional samples from the Tugen Hills / Baringo Basin paleolake cores. The diatom record from these sediments will be analyzed by Dr. Karlyn Westover and Dr. Jeffery Stone over the course of the next two years.

GSA / IRC Scientific Meetings

It's been a busy October for the ISU Paleolimnology Lab as we've had 2 student posters and 2 talks presented at scientific meetings.

Sabrina Brown presented her research on Dock Lake, Indiana at the Rose-Hulman Institute's 10th annual IRC Student Research Symposium and contributed to Jase Hixson's poster on the eutrophication of lakes in the Chain O'Lakes State Park ecosystem, presented at the GSA annual meeting in Denver.

Cory Portwood present a talk at GSA on his undergraduate research from the International Paper holding pond in Terre Haute's Historic Industrial Park.

We also presented a talk on the recent developments from lake-level reconstruction of the Paleolake Mababe, Botswana - which integrates to research of Drs. Stone and Latimer to provide a 75,000+ year continuous record from the Middle Kalahari Desert.

Chain O'Lakes State Park

Jase Hixson and his field crew recently returned from a weekend at Chain O'Lakes State Park, where he's developing his graduate research project looking at recent sediment from 9 interconnected lakes. The field crew collected 9 short cores from 9 lakes in just about 9 hours.

The project uses changes in the fossil diatom assemblages to track the response of the lake to changes in land use and, in particular, seeks to track the flow of phosphorus and nitrogen through the interconnected lakes by utilizing diatoms that are sensitive to eutrophication. Eutrophication is a serious problem with the state park, because over the past 10 years the park has lost visitors as a result of nuisance blooms of cyanobacteria.

North American Diatom Symposium 2013

We finished off a productive summer with a trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, to the NADS 2013 meeting. The Paleolimnology lab had 3 undergradates (Kenneth Cleghorn, Jared Foster, and Cory Portwood) presenting posters on their SURE 2013 projects from the urban ponds around Terre Haute and 2 graduate students (Matthew Brindle and Jase Hixson) presenting posters on their proposed thesis research. Additionally, Stone presented research on the freshly-completed counts from the ~76,000-year record from Paleo-Lake Mababe (Botswana). Student posters from the meeting are available as links in the publications section of the site. Expanded discussions of the student research and more from Paleolake Mababe will be presented at the upcoming GSA Fall (2013) Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Glacier National Park Research

This summer we cored Cosley and Glenn's Lakes, in the northwestern corner of Glacier National Park, as part of Matt Brindle's MS research. Along with the three cores we collected, sediment samples were collected from around the lake margin as part of geochemical data to be analyzed in Jen Latimer's Lab.

The field work included a 10 mile hike and 3 days in the back country to collect the cores and sediment material. Two undergraduates and three graduates were involved in the trip.

Along the way, we also collected a 1.5 meter core from Island Lake, Wyoming, located near the top of the Beartooth Mountains - at an elevation of almost 10,000 feet. All of the sediment cores collected are part of ongoing research that ties the fossil record of diatoms from lake sediment to changes in wind strength in the Rocky Mountain region through the Holocene.