Month: July 2015

New England Keck Project concludes at UConn

  • Keck Connecticut project leaders

UConn Professors Will Ouimet and Michael Hren, several UConn graduate students, and six students from other institutions around New England, spent the last month on UConn’s campus and out in the field investigating Holocene and Anthropocene sediments and landforms to understand the regional history of floods, climate change and human impact, as part of the New England Keck Project, funded from an NSF Grant received by Ouimet and Hren.

The primary goal of the New England Keck project was to provide a unique and innovative research experience that integrated the diverse expertise of the project leaders to develop sedimentary and geochemical records of climate, landscape change, and human impact using field measurements and collected cores/samples. Use of UConn’s facilities allowed students to participate and actively engage with thriving research communities and be involved in a mix of field and laboratory research.   Students were housed at UConn, and made day and overnight trips throughout Connecticut and other parts of the New England region.

Some of the broad research questions that were investigated include:

  • What is the record of Holocene floods in southern New England, providing a Holocene context for events such as Hurricane Irene in 2011?
  • How do records of Holocene climate change vary across the region?
  • Is there a record of frequent fire in northeastern forests over the Holocene?
  • What is the erosional and depositional legacy of historic land use and sediment mobilization?
  • How does landscape response to widespread deforestation in de-glaciated regions such as southern New England compare to well-studied examples in un-glaciated landscapes in the mid-Atlantic US?
  • What is the role of slope and surface geology in affecting land use and degree of landscape response?
  • What is the legacy of historic land use on soil morphology, carbon storage and geochemistry in now reforested terrain?

They answered these questions by employing the following GIS, field and laboratory methods:

  • LiDAR based mapping, spatial analysis, field calibration and site selection
  • Field mapping of landforms, and surveying
  • Collection of sediment cores in wetlands, kettle ponds adjacent to river courses, and mill dams
  • Trenching, soils description and collection of soil samples
  • Sedimentological analysis of all sediment samples (grain size analysis, LOI)
  • Organic geochemistry of select sediment cores (C and H isotopes of plant waxes in soils and sediments; C/N isotopes in organic matter; H isotopes; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – PAHs)
  • Tree surveying (for biomass calculations) and tree coring (dendrochronology and tree ring isotope analysis)
  • ICP analysis of major and trace cations and metals (e.g., Hg) in sediments
  • Sample collection and prep associated with 137Cs, 210Pb and 14C dating

More information about this project can be found here.

A few words and photos from Banu on a recent trip to Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania…

One of our Geoscience Majors, Banu Mayraktar, just returned from a recent trip to Tanzania, and shared a few pictures from the journey.  Their group took a safari through the Ngorongoro Crater, which is supposed to be the world’s largest caldera.  Other people from the group stayed on to hike mount Kilimanjaro, which Banu plans on attempting next visit!  Thanks for sharing your summer trip with us, Banu!!!


Professor Tim Byrne receives award at FACET Conference in Taiwan.


UConn Professor Tim Byrne shakes hands with Minister of Science and Technology’s Dr. Jyuo-min Shyu, as Professor Byrne accepts an award of honor for organizing the FACET 2015 Conference that was held on May 28th through June 2nd in Taipei, Taiwan.  The FACET (Feedbacks and Coupling Among Climate, Erosion, and Tectonics) Conference was attended by over 200 Taiwan and American scientists and included 3 days of meetings in Taipei and 2 days of field trips.  Over 40 North American scientists received support through an NSF Grant awarded to Byrne and Dr. Crespi that supported travel to the meeting, housing, meals, and field trip expenses.  The Conference was a great success!

Read more about the FACET Conference.