Sediment sampling on the Andean flank, Ecuador

One of the key goals of the fieldtrip to Ecuador (August-September) was to sample organic and volcanic (tephra) layers from sedimentary exposures with the aim of obtaining new information about past envrionmental change in the region. Our Ecuadorian collaborator, Dr Patricia Mothes (Instituto Geofisico), had identified four of sites she thought might be useful too us: El Fatima Dique, Mera “2” Dique, El Rosol and Vinillos. 

Fatima section
At the Fatima site, near Puyo, a thin organic bed was sampled sandwiched between volcanic ash deposits. Wood macrofossils from this deposit have been dated to the last glacial period.

For further descriptions of what we found and field photos read on…

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Evolutionary stasis of sporopollenin

Fraser,WT, Scott, AC, Forbes, AES, Glasspol, IJ, Plotnick, RE, Kenig, F & Lomax, BH (2012) Evolutionary stasis of sporopollenin biochemistry revealed by unaltered Pennsylvanian spores. New Phytologist, doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04301.x

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Fieldwork: Papallacta and Cosanga

The second part of our Ecuadorian expedition took in lakes and sections close to the towns of Papallacta and Cosanga. The variation in climatic conditions was marked as we experienced first hand the transition from freezing fog and driving rain to burning sun and heat within a few tens of kilometers as we travelled from >4000 m down to around 1000 m elevation.

Vinillos Section
Sampling the sedimentary section at Vinillos was hampered by a tropical downpour. Sediments recovered from here include volcanic ash, mud slide deposits including large wood macrofossils and fine grained organic sediments probably deposited in still water environments.
Antenas near Cujuca
Preparing to recover a short core from a pond near the antenas at Cujuca. Short cores will be used for Chironomid analysis.

Tomorrow we will attempt to recover short cores from two more lakes. Then our final few days here in Ecuador will be spent visiting partners and packing up.

Mera fieldwork continued…

The first half of our field work expedition to Ecuador has now been completed. We had a very successful visit to Mera collecting samples from three new sections and recovered short cores from four lakes.

The sediment sections have yielded many wood macrofossils and samples for pollen analysis. It is anticipated that these will shed light on the nature of tropical vegetation during the last glacial period and before. Some of these samples will be analyzed by Hayley as part of her PhD research.

Mera "Forest bed"
The sedimentary section found near Mera contained layers of crushed forest beneath volcanic ash. These “forest beds” provide a snapshot of vegetation in the landscape at the time of eruption. Part of plants growing on the landscape thousands of years ago are clearly preserved in the sediment.

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Field work near Mera (Ecuador)

Mera (Ecuador) 

We have now spent two days in sampling sedimentary sections near the Rio Tigre close to Mera in Ecuador. The sections are peat deposits interspersed with volcanic ash and contain many wood macrofossils. It seems likely that the depositional environment was a shallow water swamp or bog. Although we will have to wait for the analysis of the fossil record to know the composition of the vegetation at the site.

Sediment Hunting near Mera
Sediment Hunting near Mera

Mera Rio Tigre section
Mera Rio Tigre section

Sunset at Giobambua hotel
Sunset at Giobambua hotel

PCRG August

I am writing this August post from the Hotel Rincon Escandinavo (Quito, Ecuador) most of this month has been pretty hectic as we have been preparing for this field work trip and trying to get as many things out the way before hand.

We seem to have been quite involved in conference activity: Lottie presented “500,000 years of vegetation change from West tropical Africa” at the International Paleolimnology Association Symposium in Glasgow, Hayley had an abstract on “Pollen counting for diverse tropical ecosystems”  accepted for the Linnean Society Palynology Group meeting (1 November) and group members also submitted abstracts for consideration to be presented at the American Geophysical Union Congress and British Ecological Society meeting (both in December); fingers crossed these will be accepted as well.

Regarding the field work. Preparation seems to have gone well and we have arrived in Quito with all out bags, despite a short (1 hour) connection in Madrid. Tomorrow we will meet up with Dr Patricia Mothes (Instituto Geofisico) and set out our detailed plans. As I have now been up for more than 24 hours I should probably get some sleep… Plan is to blog more about the trip as it happens.