Welcome to the blog for the Oberlin College Geomorphology Research Group. We are a diverse team of students working with Amanda Henck Schmidt on geomorphology questions. This blog is an archive of our thoughts about our research, field work travel notes, and student research projects. Amanda's home page is here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Mae Kate an Philip Signing Off!

MK's bit: This semester, Philip and I were working with some new soil pit samples! This project was a continuation of the winter term project I did last year and presented this year at GSA. A lot of the beginning of the year, I was focusing on re-doing the analyses I had completed on the soil pits to incorporate XRF data. This meant shatterboxing all the samples, which was a time intensive project. When the new soil pits arrived, Philip and I had a bit of difficulty sorting through them because the labels on the bags had worn off. We were able to sort them, sieve each sample to <2mm, and pack and seal them before the semester was out, so someone else will be able to take this project over!

It's been a busy semester, but working with Philip has been a blast! We read a lot of interesting papers, survived mineralogy, had some crazy shatterboxing times, and learned how to use the autoclave. I'll be spending next semester in Cuba, and upon my return I'll be jumping in with my EPA project focusing on the effects of agricultural drainage tiles on subsurface erosion rates. I'm excited to see what the future holds!

Philip's bit: This semester was my first experience working in a research lab. It was a great experience working with Mae Kate and learning how to problem solve in the lab. My first responsibility in the lab was to help Mae Kate and Adrian shatterbox some soil samples to prepare them for XRF analysis. Over the course of the semester, I got to learn how to shatterbox, siv, autoclave, and catalogue samples, but my main job in lab was to maintain the liquid nitrogen levels in the labs germanium detector and the geology department's scanning electron microscope. I learned a lot working in Amanda's lab through both the frequent papers Amanda gave to us but also because my lab work tied in to what I was learning in Mineralogy. It's been a great, busy semester trying to balance my class work with my lab work. Working with Mae Kate has been great, and I'm excited to keep doing research in the geology department. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Zanna's fall research

          This fall was my first semester working in Amanda’s lab. I started out by assisting Megan on compiling and analyzing her data from this past summer’s fieldwork in China. It was a great opportunity for me to continue building on the GIS skills that I have. Megan’s objective was to quantify the river’s change in a rural village in Yangjuan, China. She did this by using repeat photography, GPS data, GIS mapping techniques, and traditional surveying methods. She found that parts of the restoration effort of the rural village were relatively effective, but that during a 50-year flood they proved to be largely ineffective in protecting agriculture.
My part in this presentation was helping her to quantify the change by visually analyzing the data in ArcMap. I started out doing this by taking the GPS data she had tracking the left and right banks of the river and transforming the feature vertices to points. After adding surface information and running the Euclidean distance, I was able to quantify the change between the available 2010 data and the 2015 data so that I could measure the change in bank width between that period on both the left and right bank.  I also digitized the riverbanks in order to create a simple graphic for Megan, which she could use to display her surveyed area. Lastly, I helped Megan to customize a map that showed the different landform properties of the river in order to help her audience visualize how the river has shifted and affected the land over the past seven years.
If I’d had more time, I would have turned the riverbanks into routes in order to create a longitudinal profile of the river displaying both elevation and distance.
Otherwise, I have spent the semester assisting in running sediment samples, sieving, and have been prepping for my own trip with Amanda to China this January. We will be looking to generate a comprehensive understanding of the fire history in western China. We are hoping to determine the background and long-term erosion rates in the Lower Jin Sha. Additionally, we want to describe the stratigraphy of the river and collect samples for radiocarbon dating. Combined, this data will allow us to figure out how frequent fires were in past years. The information will also inform us as to if large debris flows were related to these events. Ultimately, a greater understanding of how fire use in the Lower Jin Sha region relates to erosion will arise.