Abstract: Anna Woodson
Mentor: Donald Barber
Mentor: This summer, I am working with Professor Donald Barber on a field and laboratory research project investigating how the rate of sea-level rise has varied over the past 5000 years. We are conducting fieldwork on Cedar Island, located in southern Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. The fieldwork involves collecting sediment cores of salt marsh peat deposits between low-lying beach ridges. We will be using a laser theodolite and differential GPS system to tie our core locations to a benchmark of known elevation on Cedar Island. This will give us precise depth control in the core and therefore more certainty about the paleo-sea level elevations determined from the samples.
Upon completion of the fieldwork, sediment cores will be brought back to the laboratory for analysis. Laboratory work will include visual logging and analysis of organic carbon content, as well as identification of plant macrofossils and foraminifera shells to determine indicative meaning with respect to sea level. We will determine sediment age by radiocarbon dating salt marsh plant fragments from the cores. The new data to be generated this summer, combined with existing data from cores previously collected, will allow us to construct a depositional model of the Holocene sediments in the study area. This chronostratigraphic model and other data resulting from my research project will provide a record of past environmental conditions in the study area. This project will contribute to our understanding of coastal geomorphology in response to changes in sea level and aid in planning for the future of coastal towns as the oceans continue to rise.