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Examining Environmental Changes in the Adirondacks


Joining the ongoing examination and analysis of human-caused environmental changes in the Adirondacks, a group of Hamilton researchers spent four days taking sediment cores from four Adirondack lakes. Assistant Professor of Geosciences Catherine Beck, Sciences Instrumentation Technician Bruce Wegter, Syracuse University Ph.D. student Nick Zaremba, and Hamilton geoscience majors Meredith LaBelle '19 and Emily Alexander '19  traveled to Tupper, Long, Raquette, and Indian Lake.

Using Hamilton’s research boat, the “Continental Drifter,” the group obtained the cores by first using CHIRP (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse) sonar technology that provides detailed sonar imaging of each lake floor to better determine its geologic material. Using that information, the group was able to find sites suitable for coring, sites that had thick layers of mud and sediment, not sites that were hard, impenetrable bedrock. The group collected 14 samples that were 60 to 80 centimeters in length from the lakes.

Meredith Labelle "19 retrieving core sample“Sediment cores, even these small samples, can yield valuable information about the environmental history of a lake,” said LaBelle. “In the next few months, these cores will be split and analyzed. We will examine physical and chemical changes over the time span that the lake sediments were deposited. Adirondack lakes are vulnerable to human-caused changes, especially since industrialization and the boom of the logging industry in the 1850s.” This project will continue during the academic year as the focus of LaBelle’s senior thesis.

LaBelle added, “Depending on how far I can take my own research this academic year, I imagine this will be a project that geoscience thesis students can contribute to in the future, for example, by collecting cores from other Adirondack lakes.” 

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