AQUATIC BIOGEOCHEMISTRY:TRACKING POLLUTION IN RIVER SYSTEMS
Faculty: ANOUK GILLIKIN-VEREYDEN, Union College
Students: CELINA BRIEVA, Mt. Holyoke College, SARA GUTIERREZ, University of California-Berkeley, ALESIA HUNTER, Beloit College, ANNY KELLY SAINVIL, Smith College, LARENZ STOREY, Union College, ANGEL TATE, Oberlin College
Funding Provided by:
Keck Geology Consortium Member Institutions
The National Science Foundation Grant NSF-REU 1358987
Students and faculty of the Keck Colorado Project will make field measurements and collect samples to help characterize the: (1) importance of fire in the critical zone; (2) the geomorphic significance of catastrophic floods in channel and floodplain evolution; and (3) the variable effects of the September 2013 floods from the upper to lower Fourmile basin. Broader research questions include:
• How does fire influence the long-term evolution of hillslopes and channels in the area?
• How does the architecture of critical zone development control the hydrologic response of the Fourmile catchment to precipitation at higher and lower elevations?
• How does the legacy of land-use, including placer and hard-rock mining, impact stream sediment transport and geochemistry in Fourmile Canyon?
What do the short-lived isotopes 7Be, 137Cs and 210Pb tell us about erosion processes and rates on hillslopes and in the channels of the study area?
Erosion of mine tailings in 2011 after Fourmile fire (from Murphy, 2011) and battered pickup in September 2013 flood debris, Fourmile Canyon, Colorado
What: Students and faculty of the Keck Colorado Project will make field measurements and collect samples to help characterize the: (1) importance of fire in the critical zone; (2) the geomorphic significance of catastrophic floods in channel and floodplain evolution; and (3) the variable effects of the September 2013 floods from the upper to lower Fourmile basin. Broader research questions include:
• How does fire influence the long-term evolution of hillslopes and channels in the area?
• How does the architecture of critical zone development control the hydrologic response of the Fourmile catchment to precipitation at higher and lower elevations?
• How does the legacy of land-use, including placer and hard-rock mining, impact stream sediment transport and geochemistry in Fourmile Canyon?
What do the short-lived isotopes 7Be, 137Cs and 210Pb tell us about erosion processes and rates on hillslopes and in the channels of the study area?
When: 2 July to 30 July 2014
Where: Front Range west of Boulder, Colorado
Who: Six undergraduate students and three project leaders: David Dethier (Williams College), Will Ouimet (University of Connecticut) and James Kaste (College of William and Mary)
The September 2013 canyon floods along the Colorado Front Range highlight how the evolution of landscapes can be regulated by episodic sediment mobilization and deposition during extreme rainfall events. Combined with the effects of wildfires, which occur regularly in this region, this event presents a rare opportunity to characterize landscape response to the combined effects of wildfire and extreme flooding along channel reaches that have been affected by both. Fourmile Canyon, the focus of the Keck Colorado 14 project, experienced a large, intense wildfire in September 2010, post-fire flooding in summer 2011 and 2012, and catastrophic flooding and erosion in September 2013. Fourmile Creek drains alpine, montane, and lower-elevation catchments, each of which responded differently to the September rainstorm and likely to previous extreme events.
The Keck Colorado 14 project will work in cooperation with the US Geological Survey (Boulder, Colorado) and with the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory (CZO). The “observatory” consists of 3 small, instrumented sites in the Boulder Creek basin (Fig. 1) adjacent to the Fourmile catchment: (1) Green Lakes Valley—a steep, glaciated alpine area in the Boulder watershed where “fresh” materials are exposed at the surface; (2) Gordon Gulch—a forested, mid-elevation catchment developed in weathered materials, and (3) Betasso—a steep, lower-elevation basin where surficial deposits are of variable thickness. The CZO catchments are heavily instrumented and the flux of water and solutes is monitored at lysimeters and at gaging stations; surficial geology has been characterized by previous Keck projects using mapping, soil pits and geophysical techniques. Fourmile Creek has been closely monitored since the 2010 fire, and several slope sites have monitored erosion rates, but much of this monitoring has been suspended or was destroyed by the floods. Our proposed work will help our understanding of the role of extreme events from a long-term geomorphic and hazards perspective.
Fig. 1. Shaded relief and slope map of Fourmile Creek area. Steepest slopes shaded red; shallowest slopes are blue. Study catchments include Fourmile Creek, the Green Lakes Valley, Gordon Gulch (GG) and Betasso (Bet).
Fourmile Creek is a tributary of the middle Boulder Creek catchment (Fig. 1), which extends from the glaciated alpine zone of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area east to the semi-arid western edge of the Great Plains. Deep, U-shaped valleys in the glaciated areas become shallower eastward through a zone of low relief and relatively low slopes, deepen into steep bedrock canyons as they pass knickzones, and flatten to lower channel slopes near the piedmont margin. Small glaciers and late-persisting snowfields dot the alpine zone, which exposes bedrock and relatively thin deposits related to the latest Pleistocene Pinedale glaciation. Thick (characteristically 3 to 8 m) zones of grus, saprolite and oxidized bedrock are common in the thinly forested zone of low relief. The most intensely burned area in 2010 coincides with an 1860-1945 gold-mining district (Fig. 2) and was swept by a catastrophic flood in 1894, resulting in a long history of channel disruption, modification and recovery, and sediment that contains a legacy of this history.
Fig 2. Placer mining along Fourmile Canyon near the Wood Mtn. mine (c. 1910) sample sit
Potential student projects
Students and project faculty will collect data and solid or liquid samples at field sites. We will work on initial sample treatment at the Mountain Research Station (MSR) or at the US Geological Survey in Boulder. We expect that participants will return to their home schools with field maps and notes, initial results of field measurements and samples ready for preparation and additional analysis. Data from geochemical analyses (as necessary) will probably return sometime in the fall semester. Analysis and interpretation of field and laboratory results and preparation of graphics at the home institution will be supervised by the student’s advisor and aided by the Project Directors. Some potential student projects include:
Mapping the distribution of erosion and channel and overbank deposition in areas swept by catastrophic flooding in September 2013.
Home institution activities might include: sediment volume calculations; stream power calculations and interpretation; GIS analysis incorporating Lidar and field
mapping/measurements; grain size analysis.
Measuring variations in soil morphology, chemistry, sediment generation and transport processes along slope transects on burned and unburned slopes within the 2010 Fourmile burn area and in adjacent areas that burned 30 to 50 years ago.
Home institution activities might include: air-photo analysis; GIS analysis incorporating Lidar and field mapping/measurements; drying and sieving samples for analysis (geochemistry; 137Cs and 210Pb); grain size analysis
Characterizing the hydrogeochemistry of shallow groundwater and meltwater near late-lying snowfields in upper Fourmile Creek and adjacent areas.
Home institution activities might include: prepping and running stream samples for geochemistry; data analysis; GIS analysis incorporating Lidar with field measurements of discharge and temperature
Assessing the legacy of land-use, including placer and hard-rock mining, on stream sediment and geochemistry in the Fourmile basin
Home institution activities might include: finding and analyzing additional historic documents and images of mining and land-use history of the canyon; GIS analysis integrating historic data with the Lidar base; possibly preparation of samples for geochemical analysis
Comparing the coupling of hillslope erosional processes, channel morphology and sediment transport in lower (burned) to upper (unburned) Fourmile Creek
Home institution activities might include: GIS analysis integrating field mapping and the Lidar base; preparing samples for analysis (7Be, 137Cs and 210Pb).
Characterizing the effects of the catastrophic 2013 flood on evolution of the Fourmile ‘knickzone’ and its role in determining hillslope and channel processes throughout the study area.
Home institution activities might include: river profile analysis; thin-section analysis; GIS analysis integrating Lidar and field mapping/measurements
Comparing the Holocene record offlooding, landform development and sedimentation within Fourmile Canyon to that of nearby areas such as Lefthand Canyon.
Home institution activities might include: landform mapping and river profile analysis using GIS and the Lidar base; preparation of samples for 14C analysis.
Logistics and working conditions
Students will fly into Denver, Colorado on 2 July and drive up to the University of Colorado’s Mountain Research Station (http://www.colorado.edu/mrs/), where project participants will live and eat at 9500 feet at the edge of the alpine part of the Boulder Creek catchment. Housing consists of rustic cabins; meals and lunch ingredients are served in a central lodge. The Station has laboratory, lecture, library and limited computer facilities, a local wireless network and provides regular weekday transportation to Niwot Ridge. Niwot Ridge (Fig. 3), adjacent to the Mountain Research Station, is the source of Fourmile Creek, the site of long-term ecological research (LTER) and the location for ecology and evolutionary biology research and for extensive studies about periglacial
Figure 3. View north from Niwot Ridge near the Mountain Research Station.
processes and landforms, snowmelt processes, and biogeochemical cycling (http://www.colorado.edu/mrs/research-natural-history). Keck Project participants will be housed adjacent to and will eat and recreate with students and graduate students doing research on Niwot Ridge and in nearby study catchments of the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory. In past years these interactions have led to students helping each other on project “push” days and to some extraordinary cross-disciplinary education.
We will spend part of the first week learning about local geology and research from investigators on the NSF grant, using a lecture and field trip format, and visiting each of the field locations and nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. Students will use this regional and site-specific background and consultation with project faculty to decide on their individual research topics (see examples below); projects will depend, in part, on the logistics of the individual sites. We’ll working at elevations ranging from 6,000 to 12,500 feet and in environments from the hot semidesert to late-lying snowfields! Most of the projects involve some hiking in steep forested or burned terrain; upper Fourmile projects will involve longer traverses. Local weather is unpredictable and highly variable, but usually includes thunderstorms on some days and in some places! We expect that students will work as a group at times and in pairs at other times at local sites. Communication on-site will be by GPS/radio receivers. Project participants will return home from Denver on 30 July.
Necessary and preferred student background
Important for this interdisciplinary project is a strong interest in surface and near-surface processes and in interdisciplinary science, a record of hard work and the ability to follow through. We prefer gregarious, “can-do” students with a background in geology or physical geography and coursework in:
Earth materials and/or geochemistry
Geomorphology/Quaternary geology or hydrology
GIS or field mapping (valuable)
Sedimentology and/or soils (valuable)
Structural geology or a strong background in supporting science (useful)
Participants will investigate the behavior and morphology of basaltic lava flows from two very different but related perspectives: field observations of historic basaltic lava flows in Iceland and large-scale lava flow experiments conducted at Syracuse University. Experiments will be designed to constrain the factors that control various features found in the natural lavas.
What: The project will tour key volcanic centers in Iceland before focusing for about 10 days in the 1974-1984 basaltic lava flows of Krafla in northern Iceland. Detailed mapping and observations of the lavas will be used to design specific lava flow experiments conducted under the SU Lava Project (http://lava-dev.syr.edu). The experiments will use re-melted ancient basalt to make lava flows up to a few meters across under varying conditions of temperature, effusion rate, slope, and substrate. Data collected during the experiments and from dissected flows will be available for continuing studies. These experiments represent uncharted territory in the study of basaltic lava flows.
When: June 15-July 13, 2014
Where: 2 weeks in northern Iceland and 2 weeks at Syracuse University
Who: Jeff Karson (Syracuse University), Rick Hazlett & Bob Varga (both at Pomona College) and 6 students
Project Overview and Goals:
Basaltic lava flows constitute the most common and voluminous volcanic outpourings on Earth and the terrestrial planets. Besides highly visible historic eruptions in Hawai’i, Iceland, Italy and Siberia, ancient basaltic lavas also dominate vast areas of the continents and almost the entire deep seafloor. Despite the significance of basaltic lava flows, many questions remain regarding the behavior of lava flowing across the surface and the interpretation of features found in ancient lavas.
Active lava flows take place in remote locations and under conditions that are essentially uncontrolled. At best, key aspects of flows can be reconstructed so some extent. In large-scale experimental lava flows at Syracuse University, the individual (and combined) effects of the primary factors that influence lava flows can be investigated in a safe, controlled environment. Data recorded during the experiments can be compared to features of the cooled flows and to features in ancient lava flows. Documenting the effects of key parameters on lava flow processes is necessary for understanding the accretion of lava flow fields, assessing hazards, and understanding the significance of lava flow morphologies on Earth, the seafloor, and other planetary bodies.
Potential Student Projects
Students will be encouraged to participate in designing and planning their research projects with guidance from the instructors. Some possible projects are listed below. Note that all projects can be adapted to fit the interests of their faculty advisors and available analytical facilities. These may involve varying degrees of descriptive, analytical, and theoretical approaches that can be explored in depth back at the students’ home institutions. The instructors will help coordinate this work with the students’ faculty advisors.
1. Pahoehoe/A’a transition. These two lava morphologies are well known and fundamental to introductory geology classes. Despite their common occurrence, the factors that determine these forms remain a matter of discussion. Led by observations from Iceland, experiments at SU will attempt determine the conditions that produce them.
2. Lava/wet soil interactions. Lava near Húsavik flowed over wet, marshy ground producing hundreds of small (few meters across, 1-2 m high) lava blisters. Each of these is constructed of solid lava in a conical shape, commonly with a partially collapsed roof. Lava experiments at SU with lava flowing over wet sand commonly also produce small lava blisters. Comparing field and experimental results can shed light on this process.
3. Folding of lava flow surfaces. Observations in the field and on experimental lavas show evidence of the complex folding that affects pahoehoe flow surfaces. Measurements of fold dimensions in the field in Iceland and on fully documented flows at SU can be used to evaluate lava crust rheology and previous approaches based on classical folding theory.
4. Tube-fed Pahoehoe Formation. This type of flow, with a solid crust and flowing interior (commonly hollow after drain-out) is very common in basaltic terranes including Iceland. Similar features form in the SU experimental lava flows under some conditions. Combined field and experimental data will help define the conditions under which tube-fed flows form.
5. Flow Over Steps. Lava commonly flows over steep topographic steps and cliffs. The center part of the flow appears to behave differently from the cooler, slower-moving, leveed edges of the flow as they cascaded over the steps. This situation is easily reproduced on a small scale in the SU experiments. Changes in morphology and lava behavior can be documented in the field in Iceland and with controlled experiments.
6. Magmatic Flow Directions. Magmatic flow directions in lava flows and dikes can be determined using a number of techniques including measurements of strain from the alignment of crystals or vesicles and other small-scale structures. Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) is another widely used approach. As far as we know, no studies have attempted to link these measurements of strain and flow direction in situation where there are independent constraints on strain or flow direction. Comparing results from Icelandic lava flows and experimental flows could shed new light on patterns of strain in lava flows.
Iceland is a spectacular setting for the field portion of this project. Travel from JFK is only about 6 hours. No visas or work permits are required. It is a very tourist-friendly environment where nearly everyone speaks English. Reykjavik is a very European city but most of this project will be conducted in much more sparsely populated areas in the north. There will be a few day-long car trips. Accommodations will be at small guesthouses and a permanent house owned by the University of Iceland near Krafla. No camping will be required.
Students should be prepared to work all day outdoors under moderately cool (typically ~50°F) and possibly rainy conditions. Students should be expected to be able to hike for several kilometers over mostly gentler topography but very rough and uneven volcanic landscapes. We will be near small towns but students need to bring all necessary field gear. There are no dangerous plants, animals or insects.
Syracuse University is located in Syracuse, NY in the Finger Lakes Region of central NY. University housing and meals will be available at walking distance to the Comstock Art Building where the lava flow experiments will be conducted. Travel can be arranged through Hancock International Airport, Amtrak, or bus service.
Iceland: While all field investigations have their inherent risks, fieldwork in Iceland is particularly forgiving. Should they be necessary, excellent emergency services are available, in most cases within 2 hours of all of the target areas. Colleagues at the University of Iceland will be available if any assistance is required. Cell phone communication is available in all areas of study.
Syracuse University: Despite working with molten lava, experiments in the SU Lava Project are extremely safe. With the experience from >100 lava flows in many different conditions, there is no danger of violent activity, even for flows poured directly into water. Working around our lava flows is no more dangerous than being around a wood-burning stove or fireplace. The lava will be poured by Professor Robert Wysocki and his trained students. Students directly engaged in experiments will use appropriate protective gear (goggles, gloves, leather overalls, etc.).
Large duffle bag for travel
Sleeping bag and pad (for Iceland)
Rain jacket and pants
Warm gear in layers
Sun glasses, sunscreen, hat, gloves
Geology field gear as needed (hammer, notebook, hand lens, camera, gps, compass)
Personal first aid kit
Students will get the most out of the program if they have completed courses in mineralogy, petrology or volcanology, and structural geology. Field geology experience would be a plus.
Costs: Travel, housing and field costs will be covered by the project. Students are expected to contribute toward meal expenses.
Project summaryAssessing the degree to which geological hazards in the Aleutian archipelago disrupted prehistoric human and ecological systems has important lessons for current inhabitants of the northern Pacific Rim. The Islands of Four Mountains region embodies environmental
instabilities that, in the last 10,000 years, include changing subarctic climate, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and sea level fluctuations. Compared to adjacent regions to the east and west, strong ocean currents and smaller island size magnify ecologically-driven resource extremes, perhaps creating a physical bottleneck and the cultural boundary among Unangan/Aleut peoples that persisted into the early 20th century. These islands provide an excellent opportunity to assess the development of prehistoric human adaptations to geological hazards and environmental change. The Four Mountain prehistoric sites are little studied but are highly significant in light of new geologic data indicating volcanic activity during human migration and societal development in the Aleutian archipelago. A team of professional and student archaeologists, geologists, ecologists, and zoologists will conduct a comprehensive, interdisciplinary three-year investigation in the Islands of the Four Mountains. New radiocarbon, geological, paleoenvironmental, and cultural data expected from these sites will yield novel insights into the record of geological hazards, human coping mechanisms, changing subsistence, and adaptations during the prehistoric and European contact periods.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the Aleutian Islands were first settled in the east circa 8500 years ago (Dumond and Knecht 2001; Laughlin 1963; McCartney 1984) with Aleuts expanding westward across the archipelago, and reaching the central Aleutians 6000-7000 years ago (Okuno et al. 2012; O’Leary 2001; Savinetsky et al. 2012) and the western islands 3500 years ago (Corbett et al. 2010; West et al. 1999). Volcanic in origin, the Aleutians divide the north Pacific and the Bering Sea and result from subduction, a tectonic setting prone toextremely large earthquakes with the potential to create devastating tsunamis. Nonetheless, the Aleutians are globally important because humans on two continents rely on fish from its marine ecosystem. Moreover, given the sensitivity of airplanes to volcanic ash and of coastal cities to tsunamis, its geologic hazards potentially affect all nations of the northern Pacific Rim. Comprehensive research on long-term human environmental interactions in the Bering Sea region, set against a backdrop of accelerated global change, is vital to understanding the dynamics of Aleutian biological and human systems and effectively addressing the social, political, and economic issues that arise from changes in those system dynamics today.
Geologically and archaeologically, the Islands of the Four Mountains (IFM) group is a missing component from local and regional studies of the Aleutians. Separated from substantial prehistoric and historic settlements of the larger Fox (east) and Andreanof Islands (west) by Samalga and Amukta straits, seven small volcanic islands comprise the IFM: Amukta, Yunaska, Herbert, Carlisle, Chuginadak, Kagamil and Uliaga (Fig. 1). Little explored, they require comparable investigation with the modern, interdisciplinary research tools and methodologies that have been employed on other North Pacific island groups. Our goal is to investigate the geologic evidence for abrupt hazardous events such as eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis and to integrate both sudden and gradual environmental changes (e.g., sea level changes) into the temporal record of subarctic human society (e.g., West et al. 2012).
The antiquity of western Aleutians occupation required that prehistoric humans transited through the Islands of the Four Mountains, although the timing of the initial establishment of IFM habitation is yet to be determined. Crossing Samalga Pass, a 40-km-wide strait, was, and remains, particularly formidable— 18th century Russian sailors recognized this waterway as circulating large ocean currents. Moreover, Samalga Pass and the Islands of Four Mountains mark a distinct geographic boundary between the eastern and central-western Aleutian archipelago that coincides with pre-contact linguistic and cultural boundaries (Ladd et al. 2005; Veltre 2012). In addition to geographic challenges, volcanic eruptions occurred during the period of migration and habitation (e.g., Pekar et al. 2005; Larson et al. 2007) though the geological record of eruptions and earthquakes is poorly investigated in this region.
The steep, conical morphology of Mt. Carlisle (1524 m elevation) and Mt. Cleveland (on Chuginadak) suggest substantial Holocene growth of these stratovolcanoes, and preliminary 14C dating of soils and grasses intercalated with tephras on the northern flank of Mt. Cleveland document that local eruptions occurred during the period of human occupation. Although Veniaminov and Grewingk documented witnessed IFM eruptions during Russian occupation (Black and Geoghegan 1984; Jaensch 2003), these accounts do not clarify which of the two volcanoes erupted. Also the current seismic record indicates the potential for catastrophic earthquakes to affect the IFM during prehistoric settlement. Three of the largest earthquakes ever recorded occurred on the Aleutian subduction zone (Johnson et al. 1994), and most of the subduction zone has ruptured historically (Wesson et al. 2007). The 1957 (Mw 8.6) Andreanof Islands earthquake concentrated slip at the IFM (Johnson et al. 1994) likely caused co-seismic land-level change in the islands though this is undocumented. Paleoseismic sedimentary and geomorphological evidence of large Holocene earthquakes is little studied in the Aleutians, although such studies have been successful along the Alaska Peninsula (Begét et al. 2008; Fryer et al. 2004; Shennan et al. 2009) and preliminary exploration the sedimentary record on adjacentUmnak Island indicates tsunami deposits within the Holocene record (R.C. Witter, pers. comm.). Moreover, Begét et al. (2008) describe evidence that volcanic eruptions as well as large earthquakes have the potential to generate tsunamis in the Aleutian chain.
Figure 2. The Islands of the Four Mountains, Alaska, showing Carlisle and Chuginadak Islands in the study area. Yunaska and Amukta to the west not shown. Preliminary 14C dates show explosive eruptions in the IFM at circa 2700 and 3600 calib. yBP (Nicolaysen, unpublished data), synchronous with human movement westward to the central Aleutians (image from: NASA Earth Observatory, 2012).
Island habitation and geologic hazards. We will focus our investigation on Chuginadak and Carlisle Islands. The prevailing winds are westerly, thus prehistoric sites on Chuginadak are typically downwind of Mt. Cleveland volcano. Site distances from the volcano vary, allowing assessment of the hypothesis that closer prehistoric sites would be more greatly impacted by tephra deposition. The interplay between habitation and tephra deposition provides an outstanding opportunity to use high-resolution stratigraphy and 14C dating to investigate both the frequency of the volcano’s eruptions and the human response to this hazard. The results of the tephrochronology will anchor our investigation of human responses to other local, natural hazards. For example, some site locations are more susceptible to prehistoric seismogenic tsunamis than other sites, and the tephrochronology will enable temporally appropriate correlations.
The prehistoric eruption history of Mt. Carlisle volcano is entirely obscure. The southern flank of Carlisle exposes approximately a dozen tephra layers, yet neither the chronology, nor the source of these layers is established (Cooper 1991). It is possible they represent eruptions from Carlisle, Cleveland, or one or more of the caldera-forming eruptions of Herbert and Yunaska volcanoes. Prehistoric sites on Carlisle are usually upwind of Mt. Cleveland and thus possibly more protected from the eruption impacts. Also we will test the hypothesis that sites on Carlisle have diminished susceptibility to seismogenic tsunamis because Chuginadak and Herbert Islands stand between this volcano and the expected zones of shallow, large earthquake epicenters.
Island habitation and land area. The Islands of Four Mountains are considerably smaller compared to adjacent island groups (IFM: Carlisle <40km2; Chuginadak <170km2; Fox Islandsinclude Unimak ~4,070, Umnak ~1770, Unalaska ~550km2; the Andreanof Islands: Atka, Adak, and Kanaga, ~1,050, 710, 370km2 respectively). Vegetation and animal species richness and consequent human foraging opportunities are correlated with island size (MacArthur and Wilson 1967; McCartney 1977). Given a smaller land surface, a hypothesis is that disturbances to the paleoenvironment, whether from geologic disasters or overconsumption of depleted biotic resources, would have a greater impact on human sustainability, requiring perhaps, innovative adaptations.
Clearly the combination of tephrachronology, detailed stratigraphy, 14C dating, and volcanic mapping included in this proposal will revolutionize our knowledge of volcanism in the IFM and its impact on human ecosystems. The different locations and different immediate volcanic threats of the proposed excavation sites provide an ideal opportunity to test fundamental hypotheses regarding how humans inhabiting the IFM responded to geologic hazards.
Project Research Plan
The Keck Consortium students will meet Professor Nicolaysen and other members of the research team in Anchorage AK. After an initial orientation day, we will fly to Dutch Harbor/Unalaska Village, Alaska, where we will attend presentations by all members of the research team at the Museum of the Aleutians. To facilitate comprehensive mapping and sampling as well as ensuring the safety of the research team, we have secured National Science Foundation funding for logistical ship and helicopter support for roundtrip transit from Dutch Harbor to the IFM and during the field season. The ship will transport the research team to the Islands of Four Mountains July 27th to 28th and field work will occur until approximately August 17th. Upon return to Unalaska Village and Dutch Harbor, students will aid the research team in archiving samples at the Museum of the Aleutians and shipping comparative lava and tephra samples for research to their home institutions. All artifactual materials will be archivedat the Museum of the Aleutians or the Aleut Corporation headquarters. Before leaving Unalaska, students will write an introduction to their research project and proposed project plan to complete their research during the academic year.
Field Safety and Conditions
This project has a number of unusual field conditions and it is imperative that students understand that all of these may apply to our field season. The project co-directors (Dixie West, Kirsten Nicolaysen, Virginia Hatfield and Bre MacInnes) have had numerous conversations with the Alaska Volcano Observatory and with the NSF subcontractor CH2MHill Polar Services. The following information is based on the many years of sub-Arctic field experience of all the co- directors and on a comprehensive multi-page risk assessment performed independently by CH2MHill Polar Services, Inc., the support subcontractor hired by the National Science Foundation.
First, we will be working and living in remote conditions without regular telephone or internet access. Satellite phones and VHF radios will be used by all field teams. We will live both onboard ship (anticipated using the Research Vessel Maritime Maid) and camp on the islands of Carlisle and Chuginadak. After our plane flights to Anchorage and then Unalaska Island, we will embark on the ship for 1-2 days of transit time, depending on weather. For our access of the islands and research sites we will use both small Zodiac-style skiffs with outboard motors and a6-passenger helicopter (Bell 407). The island camps will include living in a yurt and tents provided by CH2MHill Polar Services, Inc. Students will help assemble the tents and participate in the cooking/cleaning rotation. Students will also help with digging, maneuvering large screens for sieving soils, and carrying lava samples in packs weighing 20-35 pounds. The terrain is steep and rugged. Students should be able to hike distances of up to 5 miles (8 km) per day. Most work will take place between sea level and ~1,500 feet (460 m) elevations. There are no bears on these islands. The presence of mosquitos and other biting insects is negligible, primarily because there is a lot of wind. Likely daytime temperatures will range from 45-75°F, but these temperatures combined with frequent rain and wind chill can cause hypothermia. I will provide a list of necessary equipment that will include non-cotton clothing (e.g., wool and/or polypropylene/capilene) as a must. Students will also need to acquire rubber boots and Goretex or similar waterproof jacket and pants. We will also need sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses as the entire spectrum of weather can occur.
We will participate in safety briefings related to the ship, skiffs, and helicopters. Both emergency dry suits and Mustang work suits will be available for all participants. Finally, Mt. Cleveland erupts periodically including in the past year (2013). Because of this, we will select our research sites and use the ship and helicopter resources with safety as our primary priority. We will also work closely with the Alaska Volcano Observatory staffpersons who participate in this expedition and follow completely their recommendations related to the volcano’s activity. The likelihood of a tsunami-inducing event during our field season is very small but not impossible. Finally, Nicolaysen is a certified Wilderness First Responder (WiFR). If you have any first aid or wilderness first aid training, please indicate this in your application statement.
Potential student projects
All students will participate in archaeological excavation, which includes substantial digging and sieving, as well as participating in geologic mapping and sampling. Recommended coursework for each project is listed below, though some of these courses may be taken senior year concurrently with the research project.
Project 1: Site microstratigraphy- Reconstruction of the sequence of geologic events that impacted local habitation requires careful examination of the sedimentary microstratigraphy both within an excavated site impacted by humans and within a comparative geologic sequence nearby. This project will be most suited to students with preparatory coursework in Sedimentation and Stratigraphy, Geomorphology, Mineralogy, Volcanology (optional), and Paleoanthropology/Archeaology (optional).
Project 2: Provenance of lithic tools– The assemblage of tools recovered from the archaeological sites may show differences in what lavas were used for stone resources through time, as sites on other islands have demonstrated (e.g., Nicolaysen et al., 2012). This project will involve visual characterization of rock types used for lithic tools, non-destructive analysis of tools using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscoper (provided by Nicolaysen), and further analysis ofmicro-flakes in the discarded debitage of tool production. This project is most suited to students with preparatory coursework in Mineralogy, Petrology, and preferably Paleoanthropology/ Archeaology courses and/or Volcanology and Geochemistry (optional).
Project 3: Geologic mapping of Carlisle Island– Understanding the acquisition and transportation of lava and tephra suitable for lithic tools recovered from archaeological sites requires mapping and sampling the available exposed geologic units on Carlisle Island. This student may also participate in mapping the lavas and tephras forming the older, eastern part of Chuginadak Island. This project will be most suited to students with preparatory coursework in Sedimentation and Stratigraphy, Geomorphology, Mineralogy, Petrology, and possibly Volcanology, Geochemistry, and/or Field Camp (optional). Other potential projects include topics ranging from geomorphology of tsunami deposits, palynology and tephrochronology as discussed with other senior research scientists of the project team.
Prof. Kirsten Nicolaysen (Whitman College) will take primary responsibility for helping Keck project students define their research projects and complete their studies. Prof. Nicolaysen and colleagues have extensively studied Mt. Cleveland (Dean et al. 2004; Nicolaysen et al. 2003, 2005 and manuscripts in preparation; Pekar et al. 2003, 2005), and a preliminary geologic map is compiled. Nicolaysen has experience sourcing lithic artifacts and characterizing geologic sources and demonstrated that obsidian chips in archaeological sites on Adak Island were originally derived from obsidian deposits on Umnak Island approximately 650 km east of the sites (Nicolaysen et al. 2012).
Most unusually and excitingly, the students will benefit also from the experience in participating in a multi-national, multidisciplinary research team. Other project team members with geological expertise include Dr. Pavel Izbekov (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), Dr. Breanyn MacInnes (Central Washington University), and Dr. Mitsuru Okuno (Fukuoko and Nagoya Universities), as well as 2-3 additional research scientists with the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Dr. Izbekov will focus on determining the magnitude of volcanic eruptions and help complete geologic maps of Cleveland and Carlisle volcanoes. Dr. Breanyn MacInnes will lead the geomorphological and stratigraphic research components in the field and laboratory and has participated in similar paleoseismic studies in the Kuril Islands portion of Beringia (MacInnes et al. 2009, 2012; Pinegina et al. 2007). Data compiled by Dr. MacInnes and her M.Sc. student will be crucial to evaluation of seismic and tsunami hazards in the Four Mountains region. Dr. Mitsuru Okuno (Fukuoka University, Japan) will radiocarbon date and identify origins of volcanic tephras that intercalate archaeological sites. The tephrochronology is crucial to testing correlations between changes in the physical environment and the timing and pattern of human adaptations in the IFM (e.g., Okuno et al. 2012). Additionally there will be at least three archeologists (including co-PI’s Dixie West and Virginia Hatfield of the University of Kansas) and two paleoecologists participating in the field work. The students, funded jointly by the Keck consortium and an NSF grant to Nicolaysen, will interact with a coalition of project scientists as well as personnel of the Alaska Volcano Observatory, Museum of the Aleutians and members of the native Aleut and Ounalashka Corporations.
Begét, J., C. Gardner, and K. Davis, 2008. Volcanic Tsunamis and Prehistoric Cultural Transitions in Cook Inlet, Alaska. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 176(3): 377-386.
Black, L.T. and R.H. Geoghegan, 1984. Veniaminov, Ivan, 1840, Notes on the Islands of the Unalashka District [translated from Russian in 1984]: Pierce, R. A., ed., Kingston, Ontario, Limestone Press, 511 p.
Cooper, R., 1991. Report of Investigation for Site CR-2. Prepared by BIA ANCSA Office for the Aleut Corporation. On file, Bureau of Indian Affairs ANCSA Office. Anchorage, Alaska. 32 pp.
Corbett, D., D. West and C. Lefèvre (eds.), 2010a. The People at the End of the World: The Western Aleutians Project and the Archaeology of Shemya Island. Aurora, Alaska Anthropological Association Monograph Series-VIII. Anchorage, Alaska. 297 pp.
Dean, K., J. Dehn, K. Papp, S. Smith, P. Izbekov, R. Peterson, C. Kearney, and A. Steffke, 2004. Integrated Satellite Observations of the 2001 Eruption of Mt. Cleveland, Alaska Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 135: 51-73.
Dumond, D. and R. Knecht, 2001. An Early Blade Site in the Eastern Aleutians. In Archaeology in the Aleut Zone of Alaska, Some Recent Research, D. Dumond, ed., pp. 9-34. University of Oregon Anthropological Papers No. 58. University of Oregon Press, Eugene.
Fryer, G.J., P. Watts, and L.F. Pratson, 2004. Source of the Great Tsunami of 1 April 1946; A Landslide in the Upper Aleutian Forearc. Marine Geology 203(3-4): 201-218.
Jaensch, F. (translator), 2003. Grewingk, Constantine, 1850, Grewingk’s Geology of Alaska and the Northwest Coast of America [edited by Marvin W. Falk,]: Rasmuson Library Historical Translation Series 11, Fairbanks, AK, The University of Alaska Press, 242 p.
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Aleutian Earthquake. Pure and Applied Geophysics 142 (1): 3–28. Ladd, C., G. Hunt, C. Mordy, S. Salo, and P. Stabeno, 2005. Marine Environment of the Eastern and Central Aleutians. Fisheries Oceanography 14 (Suppl-1):22-38.
Laughlin, W. S., 1963. The Earliest Aleuts. Anthropological Papers, University of Alaska 10(2): 73-91. MacInnes, B., T. Pinegina, J. Bourgeois, and N.G. Razzhigaeva, 2012. Successes and Challenges of Paleotsunami Investigations Along the Kuril-Kamchatka Subduction Zone. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs.
MacInnes, B. T., T. K. Pinegina, J. Bourgeois, N.G. Razhegaeva, V.M. Kaistrenko, and E.A. Kravchunovskaya, 2009. Field Survey and Geological Effects of the 15 November 2006 Kuril Tsunami in the Middle Kuril Islands. Pure and Applied Geophysics 166 (1/2), doi: 10.1007/s00024-008-0428-3.
McCartney, A., 1984. Prehistory of the Aleutian Region. In Arctic, Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 5. David Damas, ed., pp. 119-135. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C. NASA Earth Observatory, 2012.
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Nicolaysen, K., D. Bridges, and S. Swapp, 2005. Crustal Control on Crystallization Depths? Preliminary Evidence from Mt. Cleveland, Chuginadak Island, Eastern Aleutians Arc. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2005, abstract #V21D-0655.
Nicolaysen, K., T. Johnson, E. Wilmerding, V. Hatfield, D. West, and R. McGimsey, 2012. Provenance of Obsidian Fragments Recovered from Adak Island, Central Aleutian Islands: Evidence for Long Distance Transport of Raw Lithic Material. In The People Before: The Geology, Paleoecology and
Archaeology of Adak Island, Alaska, D. West, V. Hatfield, E. Wilmerding, C. Lefèvre, L. Gualtieri eds., pp.195-210. Oxford, British Archaeological Reports.
Okuno, M., K. Wada, T. Nakamura, L. Gualtieri, B. Sarata, D. West, and M. Torii, 2012. Holocene Tephra Layers on the Northern Half of Adak Island in the West-central Aleutians, Alaska. In The People Before: The Geology, Paleoecology and Archaeology of Adak Island, Alaska, D. West, V. Hatfield, E. Wilmerding, C. Lefèvre, L. Gualtieri eds., pp. 59-74. British Archaeological Reports. Oxford, England.
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Cleveland, Islands of the Four Mountains, Eastern Aleutians. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting, abstract #V33B-0681.
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Pereladov, 2012. The Reconstruction of Ecosystems History of Adak Island (Aleutian Islands) During the Holocene. In The People Before: The Geology, Paleoecology and Archaeology of Adak Island, Alaska. D. West, V. Hatfield, E. Wilmerding, C. Lefèvre, L. Gualtieri, eds., pp. 75-106. British Archaeological Reports International Series 2322. Oxford, England.
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What: We will generate continuous records of mountain glaciation in Peru that span the Holocene (~12 ka to present) through an approach that combines the acquisition and analysis of lake sediment cores with moraine dating using both lichenometry and cosmogenic radionuclides (10Be and 26Al). In addition, we will also focus on determining the average rate of offset of moraines by normal faulting, and the role of Andean lakes as sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon.
When: approximately June 25-July 25, 2013
Where: we will travel to Lima Peru where we will spend about two days purchasing maps and organizing field equipment. We will then travel via 4X4 pickup truck and minivan into the western cordillera of Peru. We will work initially in the western-most glaciated mountain range about 200 km north of Lima, where we will spend about 10 days coring lakes, mapping moraines, and collecting samples for cosmogenic radionuclide dating of moraines. We will then travel to the city of Huaraz on the western side of the Cordillera Blanca where we will spend two days resupplying before hiking into the Queshque Valley. There, we will establish a base camp for continued glacial geological and paleolimnological investigations for about 5 days. The last week of field work will take us to the nearby Breque Valley, where we will measure the offset of nested lateral moraines by the Cordillera Blanca Normal Fault before embarking on an ~35 km trek across the top of the Cordillera Blanca to village of Chavin on the eastern side of range. Upon returning to the US, we will spend one week at Union College processing samples.
Who: A team of 3 students, Professors Donald Rodbell and David Gillikin from Union College, and two Peruvian assistants.
Project Overview and Goals: Radiocarbon and 210Pb dating of continuous records of glacial flour flux will provide precise ages of Holocene glacier advances/retreats, and will document abrupt climatic transitions. Proglacial lake sediment cores from multiple lakes along the steep east-west moisture gradient across the central Peruvian Andes will be obtained. The flux of glacial flour will be determined based on multiple proxies at a resolution sufficient to enable comparison with existing stable isotope records of paleoclimate variability from the region. Previous work in the tropical Andes has demonstrated that the glacial-flour approach can provide a record of glaciation that is both consistent with and far more continuous than radiometrically-dated moraine records. However, this approach is just beginning to be applied to the Holocene yet it holds the potential to resolve several glacial geologic uncertainties, such as the timing of early Holocene glacial advances, and the possible time-transgressive nature of ice margin fluctuations during the neoglacial. The glacial-lacustrine approach described here will be coupled with detailed moraine mapping, lichenometry, and the targeted application of cosmogenic radionuclide dating to select Holocene moraines located upvalley from coring localities. The strategic pairing of glacial flour records with dated moraines will provide both the timing and magnitude of ice margin changes. This research has three key goals:
(1) Produce centennial-scale records of glacial flour flux using geochemical analyses of proglacial lake sediment cores from sites that span the steep precipitation gradient in the central Peruvian Andes.
(2) Determine the age of moraines using cosmogenic radionuclide (CRN) dating methods to provide information about both the timing and extent of major Holocene ice advances.
(3) Test the scale and climatic forcing of Holocene glacier variability by using inverse modeling of valley-specific paleoglaciers and comparing results from this with available regional paleoclimate proxy data.
Geologic Background: Mountain glaciers are one of the best recorders of atmospheric change over the continents, and numerous workers have highlighted the importance of glacial deposits in tropical paleoclimate studies. Glaciers are also an important water resource in the tropics, and documenting the timing and causes of past variability is needed to predict future runoff changes. Studies of ice volume change in the tropics, the heat engine of Earth, provide useful information about past shifts in atmospheric water vapor content, and such studies are important for understanding the role of the low latitude hydrologic cycle in modulating global temperature and moisture-balance fluctuations. However, these studies are currently confounded by a discontinuous record of Holocene glacial variability, one that is only broadly defined: restricted ice cover early in the Holocene, followed by a regionally complicated glacial history during the middle and late Holocene.
While there are no current studies on modern sediment yields in glaciated catchments in the tropical Andes, climate and topographic conditions suggest that rates could be relatively high and closely related to climate-mediated glacier mass balances changes. Given a homogeneous temperature regime, tropical glaciers are highly sensitive to moisture related fluxes and variables such as accumulation, albedo, cloudiness, atmospheric long wave emission, and sublimation. Tropical Andean glaciers are warm-based, have strong vertical mass balance gradients, and are marked by year-round ablation. Seasonally, maximum rates of ablation are coincident with maximum accumulation, as melt rates increase 30% in the wet season. With high annual precipitation, mass turnover is sizeable and glaciers have short response times to changes in net balance, as demonstrated by the synchrony of hydrologically-derived mass balance with observations of terminus positions. Variations in glacial flour flux should, therefore, closely correspond to variations in ice extent with a lag time of less than a few years.
Recent studies focusing on Holocene glaciation in the Southern Hemisphere have illustrated both the exciting potential for better moraine chronologies to elucidate global climate dynamics, and also the limitations of inherently discontinuous moraine records for discerning the relative scale (“footprint”) of local and global forcing on glacier changes. There remains uncertainty about the relative timing of glacier advances across the globe during the Holocene, and whether these events are globally synchronous or if significant leads and lags took place. Our proposed research will advance the scientific understanding of climate change in the tropical Andes by integrating lake sediment core analyses, moraine mapping and dating, and glacier mass-balance studies. Our research will improve the knowledge of the timing, extent and causes of abrupt low latitude temperature and moisture-balance changes during the Holocene, and the role of the tropical hydrologic cycle in global climate dynamics. This study will produce multiple high-resolution (centennial-scale) records of glacial flour flux in the Central Peruvian Andes spanning the Holocene.
Possible Student Led Projects: There are numerous possible student-initiated projects that could be developed. Selection of projects will depend on student background and available analytical facilities at students’ home institutions. Student projects could include:
Lake Coring. Radiocarbon and 210Pb dating of continuous records of glacial flour flux will provide precise ages of Holocene ice advances/retreats, and will document abrupt climatic transitions. Proglacial lake sediment cores from multiple lakes along the steep east-west moisture gradient across the central Peruvian Andes will be obtained. The flux of glacial flour will be determined. Although the primary objective of the project is the development of glacial flour records from proglacial lakes, the cores and the radiocarbon and 210Pb-based chronology developed for them can be used for the development of other proxy paleoclimatic indicators. These include charcoal, pollen, biogenic silica, and sediment provenance studies using geochemical and mineral magnetic indicators. In addition, carbonate lakes containing authigenic calcite could be cored for the development of oxygen isotope records of hydrologic balance. Finally, we will take multiple short “surface” cores to document changes in the rate of carbon storage over the past several centuries. These cores will be analyzed in detail for variations in stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen.
Mapping and lichenometric dating of late Holocene moraines. Detailed late Holocene moraine maps based on aerial photographs and field mapping will be essential to this project. Lichenometric dating of late Holocene moraines is receiving renewed interest as a viable chronometer in the tropical Andes. Because this project involves field work along the steep E-W climate gradient in Peru, regional growth curves for Rhizocarpon geographicum will ultimately need to be developed in order to derive numeric age estimates for Holocene moraines from lichen data. CRN dating of moraines coupled with limiting radiocarbon dates could be the basis for growth curve development.
Mapping and cosmogenic dating of early Holocene moraines. EarlyHolocene moraines will be mapped in the field using differentially corrected global positioning systems, detailed topographic maps, and aerial photographs. At least 4 samples per moraine will be collected, and we anticipate dating between 5 and 10 moraines. Boulders of granodiorite, quartize and felsic volcanic rocks are found throughout the proposed field sites, and will be targeted for samplingbecause they are high in quartz and are ideal for CRN analyses. Surface exposure ages of boulders will be dated using the concentration of cosmogenic 10Be in quartz.
Bedrock mapping and sediment provenance studies. The majority of our targeted watersheds have bedrock types with compositions that vary up-valley, and clastic sediment in these systems are derived from both glacial and non-glacial processes. It is therefore important in our glacial flour studies to accurately map and “fingerprint” the possible sources of sediments that are deposited in the lake basins and moraine deposits. Till matrix and bedrock samples representing the exposed units in the field area will be collected in order to geochemically identify source materials for clastic lake sediments. Students will crush, pulverize, and digest using “near total” methods and measure for elemental chemistry using the ICP-MS at Union College. Lake sediment samples from the collected cores will also measured using the same methods. Discrimination plots, or similar methods, will then be used to illustrate the relative abundances of these elements that characterize different sediment provenances.
Offset of lateral moraines by normal faulting. The Cordillera Blanca Normal Fault extends for more than 100 km on the west side of the range where it offsets hundreds of lateral moraines. The dating, by the cosmogenic radionuclide 10Be, of nested series of lateral moraines offers the potential to determine average fault offset rates for discrete intervals of the past 15,000 years. The Breque Valley is ideal in this regard because numerous, nested lateral moraines are offset by the same fault segment.
Logistics/Special Field Conditions: For much of the Project, we will be living in tents at elevations between 14,000 and 16,000 feet above sea level. At these elevations, diurnal temperature variations are large; nighttime temperatures are below freezing and daytime temperatures can exceed 65° F. We will be working during the austral winter, which is also the dry season, so we can expect clear cold nights and clear, sunny days. However, snowfall and especially hail can occur at any time. We will be working around the margin of active glaciers, but not on the glaciers themselves. Fieldwork will be punctuated by overnights in inexpensive Andean hotels that lack many of the amenities to which we are accustomed.
Physical fitness, and experience and comfort living in tents for extended periods are essential. Although “at altitude, attitude is everything”, some basic field gear is essential. The Project will provide tents and sleeping mattresses, but students must have their own sleeping bags (rated -15°C or lower), Gore Tex (or equivalent) rain gear, hiking boots, and backpacks.
Recommended Courses/Prerequisites: In order to be considered for this project, students will need to have had a course in Geomorphology and/or surface processes; courses in Glacial Geology, Paleolimnology, and GIS are strongly recommended. Outdoor experience in an alpine setting, especially at high altitude would be beneficial, and proficiency in Spanish would be very useful.
Contact Information: Professor Donald T. Rodbell (Project Director) at email@example.com; Professor David Gillikin (Project co-Director) at firstname.lastname@example.org.