I took a slight hiatus from the blog but I am back. Even though our field season has been over for a week now, there is plenty more work to be done. Most of the physical effort has been put in, and now it is time to put the brain into overdrive and start making sense of all this data and mud we safely transported back to the states. Some people will be working with data more so than others. Like I mentioned before, in my case, I get to look at mud! (If only it were that simple)
The picture on the right is many pictures stitched together of one of my cores that we sliced open this afternoon. Using a combination of tools including a saw on a stand we first had to slice the plastic core tube in half. Sounds simple, but if you are a tenth of an inch too deep in cutting, you will split the core too quickly, splatter and possibly destroy all your hard earned mud. So when you get 90% through the side of the tube, you take a knife and cut the rest by hand. Then with a tripod that has a guitar string attached to it, you slide the core through it, evenly splitting the mud into two sections. (I bet a picture of that would help, I'll try to get one tomorrow morning when I go back for my next core)
Then, voila, it is split! Using a razor blade u can scrape off the uneven blobs of mud, running the blade parallel to those really nice laminations you see. So remember all that talk of varves from earlier? In that photo, you can probably vaguely make out those varves. Looking at them in detail (ie. up close) will reveal more detail about their thickness, grain size etc. Each little varve tells a story, which of course our jobs as climatologists is to decipher that story. The way someone once explained it to me is to think of a varve as an ancient language, and we have deciphered bits and pieces of this language, but there is still more work to do, and each lake can tell its own story a little differently.
Svalbard was a great experience, and as I get more pictures organized I'll keep posting here. Also, like I said, just because the fun field season is over doesn't mean the work and learning ends. As I learn new things about what my cores are telling me, I will share them here. If all goes well, I will have data and a poster to present at conferences in the spring.