Amazonian coring isn’t boring

February 2, 2018

By Seringe Huisman (MSc Biological Sciences, Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem DynamicsUniversity of Amsterdam)

Hello all! You might have been wondering if I died in the middle of Amazonian nowhere, since I haven’t come back to writing a blog after we left for fieldwork in July. Given we were in an Amazonian region full of venomous snakes that could have been the case, but the good news is I just didn’t get around writing it because I got carried away by the findings of my project! We actually had a very successful field trip – apart from some minor issues like the lake swallowing equipment, sinking waist-high into the mud each step of our 7 hour long ‘trail’ to the lakes, and almost not getting my precious samples through airport security.

We retrieved sediment cores from the lakes Cormorán and Chimerella, which are located at 1600 meters above sea level in Sangay National Park, Ecuador. Although I keep wanting to analyze the entire 7 meters of sediment retrieved from Cormorán, the scope of my project allowed me to only focus on the short universal cores (18 and 36 cm) of both lakes. Until halfway through my analyses I did not know what the ages of these cores were, which drove me crazy. But when my radiocarbon results finally arrived, it made me as excited as a kid opening a Christmas present! (Only to find out that they were not older than 330 years…).

Not that this made them less interesting to analyze: I identified several phytolith types that are not referenced yet, especially palms, and found the potential of the phytolith assemblages to indicate changes in the cloud base position through time. The final results will hopefully be available soon; I am now writing them up to submit for publication. I would like to thank the Treubmaatschappij, the Amsterdam University Fund and of course Crystal McMichael, Mark Bush, Bryan Valencia, Majoi Nascimento, Rachel Sales and all others involved for making this amazing experience possible for me: the gain was definitely worth the rain!




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