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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. 

GSA 2014

Our lab sent 4 students (Matt Brindle, Jase Hixson, Sabrina Brown, and Kendra Reininga) to the GSA annual meeting in Vancouver at the end of October. Each of the students presented posters on their own research projects and Sabrina Brown also presented a talk about some of her work on Emerald Ash Borers on ISU's campus from her days as an undergraduate. Topics for the posters spanned from research on paleo-Lake Turkana, to eutrophication and nutrient cycling in Indiana state parks, to some new research from a lake in the Beartooth Mountains. If you weren't able to make the trip up to Vancouver, all of the posters are now available for viewing as a PDF.

Recent Publications

The diatom data from Foy Lake, Montana, was instrumental in this publication, entitled "Prolonged instability prior to a regime shift", which was published this month in the Public Library of Science journal. The bulk of the work looking at the shifts in diatom regimes and modeling diatom response to climate change was done by Sheri Fritz's PhD student, Trisha Spanbauer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

SURE 2014


As the summer of 2014 comes to a close, we can look back on another successful SURE program session. This summer's research as the ISU Paleolimnology lab included work from four students (Casey Boose, Alan McCune, Erica Memmer, and Shana Shepard). Their projects for the summer ranged from diatom analysis of a core from the Beartooth Mountains, to phosphorus extractions from lakes in eastern Indiana, to modern diatom sampling and water chemistry for lakes in the greater Wabash River Valley, to preparing sediment samples from a small pond on the St. Mary of the Woods campus. Our lab worked closely with Jen Latimer's lab (and SURE 2014 students David McLellan and Tina Williams) on several projects, including collecting a core from Goose Pond, collecting a number of samples and cores from region, and sharing a number of research projects for geochemical analyses.

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.