Postcards from The Field

Hello From Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Hello from Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA! 

The students in Marine Geology have been hard at work collecting sediment through vibracoring in Swan Cove Pool, an important wetland habitat on the Refuge.  These tubes contain a continuous record of environmental change caused by both natural processes and human action. The cores we’re holding are just a few of the more than 50 taken from this region of the Delmarva Peninsula. Through their analysis, we can study barrier island formation and movement; the effects of sea level rise, storm events, and erosion on coastal zones; and salt marsh evolution and restoration on the Eastern Shore of VA.  This region is experiencing sea level rise at twice the global average!

Next stop, the lab, where we will begin our analysis by slicing open the cores. Can you smell the marsh mud from there?


Dr. Adrienne Oakley, Associate Professor of Geology and Marine Science, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Photo credit: Ashley Crist, Chincoteague Bay Field Station Marketing & Media Intern

#cbfieldstation #passhe

#chincoteaguenwr #submission

Lwen Wo From Kosrae Federated States Of

Lwen wo from Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

We were back on-island to re-measure surface elevation tables (SETs) established in mangrove wetlands within multiple Micronesian river basins. Originally set up in 1997, the SETs enabled a new project to model future sea-level rise vulnerability of these mangroves. We now have two decades of joint USDA Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority data collection. Pictured here is our team of US and Kosraean scientists installing rod SETs – newer technology that, with new insertion depths to refusal of 14-18 m, gives us greater vertical stability than our original SETs. Working with our team of Kosraean scientists and technicians to re-measure and analyze data from these new rod SETs, we can track future vertical land movement of the island’s mangroves in response to management action (e.g., harvesting, regeneration), upland erosion, subsidence, and sea-level rise in the Western Pacific. On Kosrae, we instrumented mangroves occurring in interior (near upland transition), riverine (within ~40 m of a river), and fringe (nearest ocean) environments of the Yela, Utwe, and Innem Rivers, along with additional non-river settings of interest. Similar studies are also underway on the Islands of Pohnpei (FSM) and Babeldaob (Republic of Palau).

Richard A. MacKenzie, USDA Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Hilo, Hawaii

Ken W. Krauss, U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Lafayette, Louisiana, USA

Karen M. Thorne, U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Davis, California, USA

Dear Agu Hello From Malta This Photo Is From

Dear AGU,

Hello from Malta! 

This photo is from the Summer School of the SMART project. SMART (Sustainable Management of Offshore Groundwater Resources)  is a new international and interdisciplinary project that aims to develop a best practice guide examining if and how offshore groundwater aquifers may be used sustainably to relieve water scarcity for coastal communities in Malta and potentially around the world. The project is jointly lead by scientists from GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany and the University of Malta.

This year’s Summer School provided junior scientists with a comprehensive view on coastal groundwater research and focused on using geophysics as a tool to map the location and quantify the geometry and volume of onshore/offshore aquifers as a potential resource to relieve water stress in coastal communities. Lectures were given by seven professors and researchers from GEOMAR, the University of Malta, and Texas A&M University. Nine graduate students at either the Master’s or PhD level from different countries and various academic backgrounds participated in the event. On the fourth day of the Summer School, participants conducted an onshore geophysical survey using an electromagnetic instrument (see photo) to detect variations in electrical conductivity that are related to contrasts in subsurface hydrogeology, which was brought from Texas, USA by Prof. Mark Everett. The field excursion took place in Pembroke, Malta and was chosen to discover how a fault in the study site interacts with the groundwater system. The geophysical survey was carried out to image the subsurface and gain a better understanding of the groundwater system as well as the connection between onshore and offshore groundwater system. In the afternoon, Prof. Aaron Micallef led a geology field trip around Malta.

Find out more about our project by visiting the website and Facebook page FB: SMART - Sustainable Management of Offshore Groundwater Resources


Melly Lupita, Student Assistant, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Photo by Dr. Bradley Weymer, Postdoctoral researcher/Project Leader – SMART, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Dear Agu Greetings From The Lysimeters Of

Dear AGU,

Greetings from the lysimeters of Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany!

Here is Jana Schneider (graduate student) who is at the bottom of a newly installed lysimeter and Zhen Li (graduate student) who is installing sensors in one of the lysimeters. The soil filled lysimeters are used to measure and quantify all of the components of the water balance (e.g. infiltration, evapotranspiration). Our project aims to study how surface roughness and soil heterogeneity influence soil-atmosphere interactions, and how to incorporate these effects to large scale hydrological models by effective parameters. Our scientific team includes researchers with diverse scientific backgrounds and perspectives (modelers and experimentalists at the bench scale and field scale). The lysimeter construction happened to be during a “heatwave” in Germany in which the temperature was between 30 ℃ to 40℃. It was so hot in the lysimeters that I need to wear a lab coat on my head to attempt to stay cool. My colleagues got a kick out of it, but who knows, it might be a new fashion statement if the temperature keeps rising!

It is just fantastic that we are conducting climate-related research under these extreme record-breaking weather conditions!

Jana Schneider and Jan Vanderborght , Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

Zhen Li, Colorado School of Mines, University of Texas at Arlington, USA

Kathleen Smits, University of Texas at Arlington, USA

Dear Agu Greetings From Colombia We Have Spent

Dear AGU,

Greetings from Colombia!

We have spent the last few months researching environmental risks posed by artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and coffee farming (the predominant livelihoods in the region) and community perceptions of this risk around Andes, Colombia—all the while drinking amazing coffee (a.k.a. fuel for graduate students).  As part of our investigation, we wanted to get a better understanding of the amount of mercury present in the environment at ore processing centers, as mercury can be used to extract gold from ore (a practice that is common in ASGM).  In this photo, Rosalie O’Brien, a master’s student at Colorado School of Mines, and I are taking ambient air samples using the JEROME 431-X Mercury Vapor Analyzer to compare with samples taken inside an ore processing center.

Wish you were here!

Michelle Schwartz, PhD Student, University of Texas at Arlington

Photo credit: Caitlin Cassisi, PhD Student, University of Colorado Boulder

Dear Agu Greetings From The San Ysidro Anticline

Dear AGU,

Greetings from the San Ysidro Anticline in New Mexico! This is a photo I snapped during an undergraduate field mapping course trip. You can see the bright red of the Chinle Group, and even a small sliver of Encinal and Todilto layers. Reworking and understanding the geologic history of an area from the strata is always exciting, and even more exciting when you can see sights like this!

Wish you could see the sunset in person,

Jackie Richards, Undergraduate in Earth Science at Rice University.

Dear Agu Hello From Sydney Harbour Australia

Dear AGU,

Hello from Sydney Harbour, Australia!

This last week we have been collecting groundwater and surface water samples to investigate groundwater as a vector for wastewater discharge to Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay. We’ve had a great time this week digging holes at the beach, kayaking, and sinking our waders in mangroves. This project is supported by the ASLO Limnology and Oceanography Research Exchange (LOREX) program, which supports graduate student initiated international research collaborations. We have an awesome research and field team, involving researchers from three universities in three different countries: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Trista McKenzie), Southern Cross University (Isaac Santos, Ceylena Holloway, James Tucker), and Fukui Prefectural University (Ryo Sugimoto, Toshimi Nakajima, Kana Harada).

Be on the lookout for updates, conference presentations, and publications from this project!


Trista McKenzie

Fossil Coral Hunting The Foto Depicts Henrich

Fossil coral hunting - The foto depicts Henrich Bruggemann (Université de La Réunion) and Jens Zinke (University of Leicester) collecting cores from fossil corals during a recent research cruise with the vessel Marion Dufresne II to the Eparses or Scattered Islands in the southwestern Indian Ocean organised by the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF). Our 5 member team from the UK, France (University of Reunion, MNHN Paris) and Germany (University of Kiel, MPI Mainz) successfully collected 23m of fossil coral core material and several meters of coral cores from living massive corals of up to 4m in length, as well as crucial seawater chemistry samples for calibration of coral geochemistry. The Scattered Islands are largely uninhabited and harbour a rich biodiversity, both on land and in the ocean. These remote coral reefs might serve as safe havens for coral reef survival in a warming ocean. We hope to find out. 

All coring sites are located along the climatologically important South Equatorial Current and Mozambique Channel ocean gateway, one of the crucial global surface ocean thermohaline circulation pathways on the Planet influencing regional and global climate. Our ultimate goal is to fill an important data gap in meteorological and oceanographic processes in a low-human impact setting through retrospective monitoring of climate and variability/long-term oceanographic change from modern and fossil coral geochemistry and calcification records.

Hello From 14115ft Elevation My Name Is Lauren

Hello from 14,115ft elevation!  My name is Lauren Haygood and I am a geoscience student at The University of Tulsa (TU).  I attended Oklahoma State University’s field camp in Canon City, Colorado.  We were hard at work mapping different areas, including the Mixing Bowl!  We also made stratigraphic columns and completed a week long geophysics project!  This photo is from one of our field trips to Pikes Peak, which is essentially a batholith composed of Pikes Peak Granite!  

Lots of memories were made!  Wish you all could’ve been here!

Lauren Haygood - Accelerated Master’s Student at TU

twitter: @La_U_Re_N

Gday Mate Greetings From Alice Springs

G'day Mate!

Greetings from Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia. We are studying the hydrologic effects of human and climatic stresses in water-limited areas. We are conducting soil carbon sampling and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for remotely sensed LiDAR capture thanks to the ARC (Australian Research Council).

Patricia Saco, Dominik Jaskierniak, Juan Quijano.

University of Newcastle, Australia