Previous Projects

QRC members lead and participate in a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary research projects from the study of past earth climates and glaciations to shifts in the geographic distributions and evolution of vegetation and faunal communities, to the evolution and dispersals of the genus Homo and the increasing scales of human modification of earth environments through the Holocene. QRC provides a venue for meeting and collaborating with scholars across Quaternary disciplines. We are also fortunate to be able to provide seed funding and small grants for member research projects. We are especially happy to support grad student and junior scholar research activities, much of which leads to larger, external funding from agencies like the National Science Foundation.


  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Devin Bedard, Student
    • Terry Swanson, Member

    Dating Puget Landslides and Sediment Deposits

    devin-bedard-ledgewoodOn the western Whidbey Island shoreline, there is a 3 km-long ancient landslide complex with evidence of episodic mass wasting. The bluff morphology within the ancient landslide complex is that of hummocky terrain buttressing 10 – 20 m-high scarps, and outside of the greater landslide complex there are oversteepened bluffs with only one example of a deep-seated landslide. There are lithologic contacts creating geologic conditions favorable to different hillslope processes based on the underlying sedimentology, for example: dry ravel of gravel and sand, skin slides of loose soil on till, deep-seated landslides rotating over failure planes of clay, etc. In order to locate and classify landslide geohazards, it is necessary to conduct detailed mapping of the substrata. However, correlation of units is difficult without quantitative age control on the units, furthermore there is little quantitative age constraint on the history of landsliding on western Whidbey Island. For this study, we will report on the results of C-14 (and potentially OSL) dates gathered, and apply their contribution to previous dating work in the area.  The results will add context to the glacial and landslide history in the region, which subsequently facilitates the detailed mapping of the stratigraphy. Detailed mapping of the stratigraphy will help us locate landslide-prone regions.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Jody Bourgious, Member

    Holocene history of neotectonics, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanism, paleoclimate and people on Kamchatka – visit of Vera Ponomareva

    This grant funded the travel of Vera Ponomareva, Senior Researcher, Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, to visit colleagues at UW and QRC, particularly Jody Bourgeois.  Vera and Jody have been working together, primarily on Kamchatka, since 1999 (representative references below), with their most recent collaboration focused on the mid-Holocene history of people and processes in the region near Ust’ Kamchatsk (central-east Kamchatka). In 2010, we excavated a peat near Krutoberegovo (the end of the road on Kamchatka!), which recorded the full Holocene record.  With excavation and coring, we sampled 7 m of peat for pollen studies (Florin Pendea, Lakehead University, Ontario) and tephra stratigraphy (Vera Ponomareva), with reference to coastal sections recording earthquakes and tsunamis (Jody Bourgeois and students), and to archaeological sites recording mid- to late Holocene occupation (University of Buffalo group). The purpose of Dr. Ponomareva’s visit in 2015 is to work more fully on the tephra record from this peat and related sites.  Jody will benefit from Vera’s expertise in reconstructing the history of various sites she and her students have worked on.  Vera will present at least one QRC talk on her tephra work, later in the spring.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Brian Collins, Member

    Rates and mechanisms of bedrock incision and strath terrace formation in a forested catchment, West Fork Teanaway River, Cascade Range, Washington

    Rivers incise bedrock, setting the tempo for landscape development, through periods of incision and incisional hiatuses. While many theoretical and experimental efforts have sought to understand the controls on bedrock incision and the evolution of bedrock channel shape, questions regarding the processes and controls on vertical and lateral bedrock erosion are informed by relatively few direct field measurements. To better understand rates, controls, and mechanisms of lateral and vertical bedrock incision by rivers, we measured bedrock bed and bank incision and mapped and radiocarbon-dated strath terraces in the West Fork Teanaway River. The West Fork drains 102 km2 of the tectonically quiescent southeastern North Cascade Range of Washington, and, in its lower 3 river kilometers, is rapidly incising its bed and creating strath terraces.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Brian Collins, Member

    Land use, erosion, and sediment storage over the last two millennia in a mountainous catchment in southwest Sichuan Province

    The requested funding will partially support 2015 field work and AMS dates for a field study of land use, soil erosion, and sediment budgets in the upper Baiwu Valley, a small, forested watershed in a mountainous, ethnic minority area of southwest Sichuan Province, China. The project builds on ethnographic and forest ecology research in the area by Steven Harrell (UW Anthropology) and Thomas Hinckley (UW SEFS). The study has three broad objectives: (1) To unravel the environmental history of the watershed and its human occupants—how changing patterns of land use, soil erosion, and fluvial processes have interacted through time. (2) To investigate the sustainability of soil under traditional swidden systems (practiced in the basin from about 1750 to 1950 by members of the Nuosu ethnic group, also the watershed’s current inhabitants) and, more broadly, traditional local knowledge. (3) To characterize the role of sediment storage in a small Yangtze River headwaters basin, over the last two millennia, in modulating the link between natural and anthropogenic erosion and downstream sedimentation. The project consists of field mapping and surveying valley fill; using OSL, 137Cs, 210Pb, and 14C to age valley sediments; mapping soil-profile truncation to assess the extent and intensity of erosion; and using ethnographic data and satellite imagery to understand historical land use practices and patterns.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Alex Gagnon, Member

    A Trace Element Laboratory for Environmental Science

    Instrumentation for a state of the art mass spectrometry facility at the University of Washington for the analysis of trace elements in natural materials: to track animal migration, uncover the geological and biological processes that shape our planet, reconstruct past climate, and trace contaminants in the environment.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Carrie Garrison-Lanely, Student
    • Brian Atwater, Member

    Cascadia subduction zone tsunamis and land-level change in Puget Sound, Washington

    carrie-garrison-lanely-field-photo2My research seeks to determine where Cascadia tsunamis been recorded in Puget Sound tidal marshes; and what environmental changes, if any, occurred in these tidal marshes in response to coseismic and/or postseismic deformation from great earthquakes on the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

    The extent that Cascadia earthquakes and tsunamis affect Puget Sound is relatively unknown.  I will use diatom paleoecology and sedimentology to study two types of evidence.  First, I will identify tsunami deposits preserved in Puget Sound tidal marshes.  Second, I will determine whether or not Puget Sound tidal marshes record land-level change that coincided with, or shortly followed, great Cascadia earthquakes.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Projects | |
    • Don Grayson, Member

    Assisted Migration and the Future of Great Basin pikas (Ochotona princeps)

    dgrayson-dugwaySince the end of the Pleistocene, warming climates have seen acceptable habitat for pikas (Ochotona princeps) move upslope by approximately 785 m in the Great Basin.  As a result, the future of these iconic mammals in arid western North America is a matter of great concern to conservation biologists.  Given that an attempt to place pikas on the federally endangered list failed, it seems extremely likely that these animals will now be the focus of proposals for what has come to be known as “Assisted Migration”—the purposeful movement of animals across space to establish new, and hopefully successful, populations of those animals.  The work to be conducted under this grant brings together three individuals to address issues related to pika assisted migration.  Those individuals are myself, with expertise in the history of small mammals in arid western North America, including pikas, and two of the world’s experts on these animals, Dr. Constance Millar (USFS Research Scientist) and Dr. Andrew Smith (Professor, Arizona State University).  The work will: 1) include an examination of current occupied pika habitats in the western Great Basin, and, 2) begin the process of producing a position paper dealing with pika assisted migration for a major biological/conservation biological journal.

  • 2013-14 Award Project | |
    • Bernard Hallet, Member

    Napal Project

    hallet-2014-projectProject summary
    Bernard used QRC funds to support the presentation of the data to an audience that includes the most active groups studying mountain permafrost in diverse sites worldwide, including the Himalaya. Presenting these rich results to an informed, international audience will help us obtain external funding to sustain the collective research by my group and UW colleagues in the Himalaya. Bernard submitted an abstract titled “The diverse important roles of permafrost and periglacial processes in shaping the highest mountains on earth (ABS794)” to the 7th Canadian Permafrost Conference. The abstract was accepted and with the support of the QRC, Bernard was able to attend the conference as the NSF funds that fueled this work.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Gordon Holtgrieve, Affiliate Member
    • Julian Sachs, Member

    Acquisition of compound-specific isotope ratio mass spectrometry capabilities in support of environmental science research

    gordon-holtgrieveThese funds will contribute to the acquisition of instrumentation to perform stable isotope analyses of individual chemical compounds from a wide variety of environmental samples.  Compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) of carbon and nitrogen is the state-of-the-art across multiple disciplines within environmental science including ecology, biogeochemistry, oceanography, and global change.  These capabilities are not currently available to environmental science researchers at the University of Washington (UW).  Project PIs are Gordon Holtgrieve (SAFS), Julian Sachs (Ocean) and Paul Quay (Ocean).  Project participants span six Schools and Departments within two Colleges (College of the Environment or College of Engineering), providing the critical mass, interest, and grant activity to establish environmentally related CSIA analyses on the UW campus.  Adding CSIA to the existing suite of isotope measurement techniques and expertise at the UW will advance existing research programs and create new avenues for environmental research. 

  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Ethan Hyland, Affiliate Member

    High latitude terrestrial climate and ecology during peak greenhouse warming

    ethan-hylandThis project supports field and laboratory work to enable an interdisciplinary investigation of gradients in temperature, hydrologic conditions, and vegetation across North American mid- to high-latitudes during the early Eocene global warming event (~52–50 Ma).  The primary goal of this project is to advance the understanding of carbon cycling, climate dynamics, and terrestrial ecological responses to high atmospheric pCO2. By improving high latitude proxy records of climate and ecology in the deep past, this work can improve our understanding of climate feedbacks and their biological impacts during the glacial-interglacial cycles of the Quaternary as well as potential future climate states involving extremely warm or “greenhouse” conditions. This is particularly crucial as the planet has begun exhibiting unexpectedly rapid rates of change recently that may be related to high-latitude climate conditions and feedbacks.

  • 2013-14 Award Project | |
    • Batbaatar (Bataa) Jigiidsuren, Affiliate Member

    Mongolia Research

    Project summary
    Glaciers in Central Asia present an excellent opportunity to test glacier sensitivity to various climate settings. During the global last glacial maximum, around 20,000 years ago, glaciers in southern Siberia and Altay mountains hosted large glacier-dams to originate some of the largest outburst floods on Earth. Central Mongolia shows a similar pattern of glacier advances, in addition to slightly bigger glaciers ~30,000 years ago. In contrast, Bataa discovered that hyper-arid Gobi glaciated during the warmest period of the early-middle Holocene, with no evidence of glaciations during the coldest of the last ice age. In that condition sunlight provides sufficient energy to evaporate the ice from these precipitation-starved glaciers. This phenomenon was first observed in dry parts of the Kyrgyz Tien Shan, and now similar ‘peculiarity’ in the high roofs of Tibet have been discovered. This project aimed to constrain the chronology of glaciers in key locations, and compile a map of paleo-glaciers with different sensitivities.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Projects | |
    • Sean LaHusen, Student
    • Alison Duvall, Member

    Frequency of Long Runout Landslides near Oso, WA and the Implications for Landscape Evolution and Natural Hazards

    Slope failures like the Oso Landslide are extremely mobile and therefore pose significant risk to communities.  Although it has been suggested that this slide exhibits an atypically low height: length ratio, analysis of LiDAR bare-earth imagery of the North Fork Stillaguamish (NFS) river valley near the Oso landslide suggests there are over a dozen local landslide deposits, many with strikingly similar long runout behavior. My research goal is to better understand the relationship between fluvial and mass wasting processes that drive short-term hillslope failures and longer-term landscape evolution along the NFS river valley. I aim to develop a conceptual model for this complex geomorphic system of river incision and large landslides in weakly consolidated glacial sediment. Specifically, this model will describe the following: an accurate landslide recurrence interval, including how patterns in landslide frequency have changed since the Last Glacial Maximum (critical for assessing hazard), how river erosion drives slope instability, what effects landslide events have on river channel location, whether historic seismic events relate to landslide triggering, and what the cumulative landscape response is through time. I aim to answer these questions through a combination of field mapping, GIS analysis, and radiometric carbon dating from organic debris within and directly overlying landslide deposits.

  • 2013-14 Awarded Project | |
    • Peter Lape, Member

    Climate Change and the Historical Record: Engaging Area Studies in the Large Research University

    Project summary
    In this project, Peter explored climate change in the historical record and the ethics of international research by bringing together five sets of UW actors: faculty and graduate students in Southeast Asian and Latin American area studies, the UW Science Studies Network (SSNet), the Ida B. Wells School for Social Justice (IBW), the Burke Museum, and other scholars from climate sciences and policy studies outside the College of Arts and Sciences. Their aim is to broaden the audience for traditional area studies; open up a conversation on ethics in international scientific collaboration; and explore new possibilities for intellectual engagement between the natural sciences and area studies. Project activities will include a series of lunchtime workshops we are calling collaborators; a set of public lectures at the Burke Museum; the creation of new course materials; and an applied experiment in research collaboration involving faculty and graduate students from Archaeology and Oceanography that will take place in Seram, Indonesia. We have chosen a focus on the Pacific Rim emphasizing Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Latin America and concentrating on the work of scholars of Indonesia and the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Peru, Mexico, and Canada.

  • 2015-16 Awarded Project | |
    • Peter Lape, Member

    C14 dating of mangrove peat cores from Seram and Ujir Islands, Indonesia

    We are requesting $2,000 to obtain radiocarbon dating of mangrove peat cores collected on a recent field trip by Peter Lape to Eastern Indonesia (Seram and Ujir Islands). This collaborative fieldwork was supported by grants to Lape from National Geographic and Mellon, with matching funds of $2000 from the QRC. These funds supported fieldwork but only minimal post fieldwork analyses. The mangrove cores were collected for analysis by the Sachs lab for paleorainfall signatures. This data will be useful for both archaeological and paleoclimate research. It will allow Lape to better understand agricultural conditions for people living in Eastern Indonesia, a central question of his archaeological research. It will allow Sachs to better understand how local rainfall in Eastern Indonesia, a crucial region in the western Pacific that is influenced by monsoon systems, is linked to regional and global scale climate fluctuations.

  • 2015-16 Awarded Project | |
    • Ian Lee, Student

    UArctic Student Forum and Congress 2016, St. Petersburg, Russia

    As part of the Future of Ice (FOI) Initiative, the University of Washington, Seattle (UW) is one of the few universities in the U.S. that are part of the University of the Arctic (UArctic), a coalition of institutions of higher education which aim to raise awareness of Arctic issues and promote Arctic-related opportunities, which among many others include internships, conferences and youth programs, to anyone around the world who has an active interests in the Arctic. In 2014 I was appointed part of the inaugural group of UArctic Student Ambassadors and represented both the UW and the U.S. The first event I attended as a UArctic Student Ambassador was in January last year when I went to Norway for the Arctic Frontiers Conference. During the conference, the student ambassadors had multiple opportunities to share their opinions on various Arctic issues as well as have special windows to chat with various luminaries in the Arctic world.

    The goals I have in mind for attending the UArctic Student Forum and Congress 2016 is to gain valuable experience through a highly unique opportunity to both take the lead to and learn what it means to voice your opinions about key Arctic issues. Whether it be a scientific, humanities or social perspective(s), the growing/learning experience will be universal. As mentioned above, attendance at such conferences also serve as a major networking opportunity for me, which when considering my future goals of immersing myself in the fields of Glaciology, will definitely prove valuable to me wherever I go in life.

  • 2014-15 Awarded Project | |
    • Vivian Leung, Student
    • Dave Montgomery, Member

    Large wood debris and logjam dynamics during and after the Elwha River Restoration project

    vivian-leung-field-workWoody debris is a primary control on river morphodynamics, affecting sediment transport, streambed morphology, fluid flow and physical habitat. Dam removals have become an increasingly used tool in river management for restoring ecosystem function and natural river processes. The Elwha River Restoration project dam removals are a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of increased wood and sediment supply on woody debris dynamics and streambed morphology. Developing a quantitative understanding of how wood interacts with water and sediment to influence geomorphology and aquatic habitat remains a key challenge for river management, environmental engineering, ecology and geoscience in forested regions. Despite advances in the understanding of wood in rivers, fundamental questions remain about wood mobility, logjam dynamics and geomorphology, and their response to changes in wood, water and sediment supply. This research investigates the effects of the Elwha River Restoration project dam removals on woody debris dynamics and streambed morphology.

  • 2015-16 Awarded Project | |
    • Ashley Maloney, Student
    • Peter Lape, Member
    • Julian Sachs, Member

    Climate and Culture in the Tropical Pacific during the mid-late Holocene

    In the tropics paleoclimate records are discontinuous and sparse. Furthermore they are developed from diverse archives with a wide range of specialized methods such as deep sea sediment foraminifera isotope records (Koutavas and Joanides, 2012; Koutavas et al., 2006; Rustic et al., 2015), coral isotope records (DeLong et al., 2012; Linsley et al., 2006), coral elemental composition (Thompson et al., 2015), speleothem isotope records (Maupin et al., 2014; Partin et al., 2013), and lake sediment algal lipid isotope records (Atwood and Sachs, 2014; Nelson, 2013; Sachs et al., 2009; Smittenberg et al., 2011) to name a few. This presents a challenge when applying paleoclimate data to archaeological situations and trying to interpret evidence of human migration and settlement (e.g. Allen, 2014; Anderson et al., 2006; Goodwin et al., 2014) and fortifications (Field and Lape, 2010) etc. One way to address this challenge is to foster interdisciplinary cooperative efforts between archaeologists and paleoenvironmental specialists (Lape, 2007).  To support this effort and discuss key climate factors that influenced tropical Pacific human culture during the mid-late Holocene we propose to host Dr. Melinda N. Allen and Dr. Michael N. Evans.

    Dr. Allen is currently an anthropologist at the University of Auckland. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Arizona and received a Master’s degree from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa. Melinda completed her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1992 which examined subsistence and landscape change in the Cook Islands and was a Research Anthropologist at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu (Hawai’i) for five years before joining the University of Auckland’s Department of Anthropology in 1996.

    Dr. Evans is currently a paleoclimatologist at the University of Maryland. He was an undergraduate in Environmental Science and Policy at Harvard and completed his Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University in 1999 followed by Postdoctoral work at LDEO and Harvard. He was a Professor at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona before moving to the University of Maryland Department of Geology and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center in 2008.

  • Funded 2014-15 | |
    • Ben Marwick, Member

    Investigating Holocene Ceramics in Peninsular Thailand

    ben_marwick_head_shouldersWe will collect data from archaeological ceramics excavated by a UW archaeology field school from the Khao Toh Chong rockshelter site in Peninsula Thailand to learn about the ‘missing middle’ Holocene period in mainland Southeast Asia. These data will be relevant to understanding the transition from hunting and gathering to a reliance on domesticated resources in Southeast Asia. This is a hotly contested subject, with Higham (2002) claiming a ‘walk in’ scenario of foreign migrants bringing agriculture in from the north, and White (1995) countering that the process of domestication occurred without outside influence.

  • 2015-16 Awarded Project | |
    • Mara Page, Student
    • Ben Marwick, Member

    Investigating Vegetation Changes in Northern Australia in the Late Pleistocene – Holocene

    Madjebebe in Northern Australia is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Australia, with evidence for human occupation at 50-60 ka (Roberts et. al. 1990a). Because of the age of this site, Madjebebe has the potential to provide insight into the dispersal of modern homo sapiens out of Africa along the southern arc through Southeast Asia.

    The samples will be prepared for carbon isotope analysis in the UW Geoarchaeology laboratory as described in Biedenbender et. al. 2004. The organic biomolecule analysis will follow the protocol described in Reber and Evershed (2004) and will be conducted with the assistance of Dr Seungki Kwak, who recently completed his PhD research using the organic geochemistry facilities in the UW School of Oceanography.

  • 2015-16 Awarded Project | |
    • Vera Ponomareva, Visiting Member
    • Jody Bourgeois, Member

    Distal and ultra-distal tephra layers as a dating tool in various fields of the Quaternary studies with special focus on Kamchatka and Kuril Islands

    Dated and geochemically fingerprinted tephra layers serve as excellent marker horizons which directly link disparate depositional successions. These layers can be used for dating paleoclimate changes, paleoseismic events and archaeological horizons as well as for compiling a record of hazardous volcanic eruptions.  In the frames of this project we are planning to work on two papers. The first one will focus on the Holocene tephrochronological framework for a geodynamically active Kamchatsky Peninsula in Eastern Kamchatka (NW Pacific), where tephra layers permit deciphering of the complicated history of environmental change and natural hazards.  The second paper will complement the first one focusing on the Late Glacial-Holocene environmental change in the same area (with Dr. Pendea, Lakehead University, Toronto, Canada). The work will be carried out together with Professor Joanne (Jody) Bourgeois. In addition, I will give a talk on the use of tephrochronology for the Quaternary studies in western Beringia, and hopefully will have a chance to interact with the ESS and QRC students.

  • 2015-16 Awarded Project | |
    • Dan Shugar, Member

    Bathymetry and hydrography of proglacial Brandywine Lake, British Columbia

    Mountains are high-energy environments characterized by instability and variability. Since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA) about 100 years ago, climate has warmed, causing extensive loss of snow and ice in mountains throughout the world. Downwasting and retreat of glaciers has destabilized alpine geomorphic systems and accelerated some catastrophic natural processes, including outburst floods from moraine- and glacier-dammed lakes.

    There has been a recent proliferation of research on ice-ocean interactions especially after the influence of ocean heat and circulation on subaqueous melt of floating ice shelves was recognized. The current research will utilize a new suite of cutting edge instruments including a portable, shallow-water multibeam sonar to collect some of the first high resolution bathymetric measurements in a proglacial lake. These data will contribute to our understanding of how glacial lakes evolve as the glaciers feeding them retreat.

  • 2013-14 Awarded Project | |
    • Ron Sletten, Member

    Reconstruction of Holocene temperatures from Greenland lake sediment cores using a novel method: Clumped Isotopes

    Project summary
    This project investigates the Northern Hemisphere arctic temperatures during the Holocene. Previous research on lake sediments from Braya Sø and Limnaea Sø found abrupt, large shifts in the carbon isotopes (δ18O and δ13C) over the past ~8,000 years, thought to be driven by changes in evaporation and precipitation [Anderson and Leng, 2004]. Recent research using alkenones from Braya Sø has shown significant (~2-5˚C) temperature variations in West Greenland during similar time periods [D’Andrea et al., 2011]. Both of these paleothermometers depend on changes in the lakes, through changes either in the δ18O composition or in the biological alkenones in response to fluctuating water temperatures. It remains to be determined how much of the reconstructed temperature changes are directly in response to a temperature shift, rather than hydrologic changes. To address this issue, this project uses clumped isotopes to (1) determine if the temperature of lake carbonate formation corresponds to the alkenone data; (2) determine if the purported temperature excursions during the Holocene reflect actual temperature changes; and (3) correct previously published δ18Owater values for temperature dependent fractionation using the actual lake temperatures determined here. The advantage of using clumped isotope measurement is that they give a direct measurement of lake temperature; the amount of clumping during carbonate formation is dependent solely on the temperature.

  • 2015-16 Awarded Project | |
    • Ron Sletton

    Permafrost distribution in High Mountain Andes

    As the Earth experiences climate change, an area that is particularly vulnerable is that underlain by permafrost[2, 3] since thawing affects ecosystems, infrastructure, shoreline stability, and, critically, the water supply for millions of people depending on runoff from the high mountains of Asia and South America. Changes in permafrost are expected to be most extensive in the margins of continuous permafrost and areas of discontinuous permafrost as the mean annual temperature warms above the freezing point of water. Delineating changes in permafrost is challenging and much has been done by land-based observations. These types of observations are labor-intensive and expensive, so it is impractical to monitor changes in permafrost over large regions. The remote-sensed observations are most effective to monitor regional-scale changes in permafrost distribution. This proposal to QRC is to provide proof of concept in mapping and modeling ice-rich permafrost (IRP) in the high mountain area of the Andes. Our proposed work plan includes working with remotely sensed images, using land-based climate data, collecting ground-validation data in the field for the extent of IRP, and determining the active layer depth, and skin temperature by installing logging systems at 4 sites in the Barrancas Blancas regions of Chile.

  • 2015-16 Awarded Project | |
    • Ed Waddington

    Could the West Antarctic Ice Sheet have Collapsed in the Previous Interglacial Warm Period?
 A Modeling Assessment based on Stable Isotopes in the Deep Ice from Siple Dome

    The Quaternary period is characterized by growth and decay of large ice sheets. Because its bed is far below sea level, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is vulnerable to the Marine Ice-sheet instability. Octopus populations in the Ross and Weddell seas, but now isolated by WAIS, and marine diatoms recovered from beneath the WAIS indicate that the WAIS was not present at some unknown time in the Quaternary. Stable isotopes of water in the bottom 8 meters of the 1-km-deep Siple Dome ice core imply that the basal ice, which dates from Marine Isotope Stage 5e (130-90 ka) or older, originated at a much higher and colder location than Siple Dome.  Prof. Richard Alley at Penn State has suggested that the WAIS collapsed to form a floating ice shelf at some time during Marine Isotope Stage 5e, bringing ice from an unknown high inland location such as the Whitmore Mountains, out into the Ross Embayment, where, as floating a few hundred meters thick, it then grounded on a submarine shoal to form the modern Siple Dome. Subsequent flow in Siple Dome has subsequently reduced its thickness to the current 8 meters.

    In this project, ESS undergraduate student, Izzati Ahamad Fouzi, will extend her research on this question by exploring a much wider range of proposed scenarios in order to establish limits on the climate and ice-flow histories that are compatible with the ice-core data.  She will also prepare a manuscript for publication on the work. The proposed end result of the project will be a manuscript with Ms Ahamad Fouzi as lead author, to be submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal such as Quaternary Research, Journal of Glaciology, or The Cryosphere.

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