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.

Friday, January 13, 2017

As our work intensifies, the winter does not

Hello Geo lovers! Monica here!

It's officially halfway through winter term and I can say for a fact that I do not believe snow on the ground has lasted without melting for more than a couple days since I arrived. It (almost) makes me nostalgic for the frigid and snowy Wisconsin winter days I chose to forgo to spend Winter Term here in Oberlin!

While the winter weather may disappoint, work in the lab is more exciting than ever. I spend my first week focusing on creating graphs and playing around with some variables to further refine the leaching process and better understand how specific we need to be to still be accurate with the programs/technology we use in the lab.

I finally (!!!) finished my project where I was testing out different ratios for the acid:sediment relationship during the leaching process. Even though the curve I created wasn't as smooth as we would have liked it to be (or frankly, smooth at all), it still showed that the original ratio we used is effective and the best choice. Which, perhaps, might be actually the best result. It's always reassuring to get confirmation you were doing something the best way all along.

Amanda also gave me a little side project of figuring out how light the elements we want to detect (to get the composition of a sediment) need to be to still get accurate activity levels. This is essentially because elements get harder and harder to detect the lighter (smaller on the periodic table) they get. I got to use my old friend ANGLE to run a bunch of calculations fiddling with different elements and it made me nostalgic for the days of STRONG this summer, although I am grateful for how time has dramatically improved my abilities to navigate excel.

I am also tracking down, compiling and preparing all of the data for the samples we need to our next paper on the leaching process. Unfortunately Amanda's multitude of projects create a lot to search through when a sample decides to go rogue, but it's good preparation for part of my work for the second half of winter term, which is to organize and catalog all the lab samples. Luckily I have the help of Simon, who just started in the lab and will post next week. I've also been busy teaching him the ways of the Dirt lab (aka leaching) and generating camaraderie between the current dirt lab members and alums (s/o to Joe).

Regardless, between writing/editing our paper, generating graphs, running samples, leaching, and organizing samples, things are busy and happy in the lab. I guess I'll use the time I wanted to spend sledding and skating leaching more samples and wishing for colder days.


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