Summer Science Research at Bryn Mawr

'Barber, Dr. Don' Archive

Holocene Depositional Variability in a Coastal Estuary, Cedar Island, North Carolina

Posted August 4, 2011

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 […]

The Geomorphology and Lithostratigraphy of Beach Ridges on the North Carolina Coastline

Posted July 13, 2011

Abstract: Liz Newbern Mentor: Donald Barber Beach ridge formation is a process that is not as well understood as other geological systems. It has been a controversial issue in the scientific community. Part of the problem with understanding beach ridge formation is that the process involves many factors (i.e. wind strength, wave size, wave energy, […]

The Geochemical Relationship Between the Salinity Gradient and the Concentration of Heavy Metals in the Delaware River Estuary

Posted June 23, 2010

In this study I will be looking at geochemical relationship between the salinity gradient in the Delaware River Estuary and the concentration of heavy metals, particularly Pd and Cd, in tidal wetland sediments. This salinity gradient is displayed in the Delaware River Estuary by the tidal freshwater to the salt marshes.

Sediment records of Holocene Sea-level, Storms, and Shoreline Change in Coastal North Carolina

Posted June 22, 2010

his project combines a study of past sea-level change as recorded in sedimentary deposits with a geomorphological study of how shorelines responded to those sea-level changes. This study targets marsh deposits lying among a series of low beach ridges on Cedar Island in Pamlico Sound on the central coast of North Carolina.

Geophysical Investigations of Holocene Sea-Level Change and Barrier Island Formation at Bogue and Shackleford Banks , North Carolina

Posted May 28, 2010

Bogue and Shackleford Banks are two barrier islands located on the central North Carolina coast, just southwest of Cape Lookout . Like most East Coast barrier islands, Bogue and Shackleford Banks formed as global sea level rose and inundated the continental shelf at the end of the last ice age. Sediment deposits associated with barrier islands provide a record of regional sea-level history over the last 10,000 years. Local geomorphology and shallow subsurface deposits also document changes in the island configurations on timescales ranging from decades to thousands of years. Documentation of the regional sea-level history contributes to the predictability of future sea-level change associated with global climate change. Furthermore, geomorphologic data on the evolution of barrier islands elucidate the dynamic nature of this type of coastline.

Nithya Vasudevan in 2009

Posted May 12, 2010

With the advent of Western medicine, scientists have started to question the validity of alternative and natural healing methods. More specifically, the ingestion of clays has been a disputed self-prescribed means to prevent morning sickness for pregnant women and treat digestive issues in parts of the United States, Central America, Africa, and Asia. While some argue that eating clay is a beneficial way to cleanse the digestive tract as well as to provide a good source of calcium, others fear that it actually leaches vital nutrients, like iron for instance, out of the digestive system. The goal of this research is to examine commonly ingested clays and study their interaction with digestive fluids. The samples will not only be found in mainstream American markets, but also in stores within various immigrant communities on the East Coast. The clays will undergo XRD analysis to determine their mineral content. Surface area, pH, and EH tests will be performed to understand the basic nature of the clays. Total digestions and bulk chemical analyses will also be conducted, along with gastric fluid extractions and dissolution kinetic experiments with simulated digestive fluids. Through this research, we hope to gain a better understanding of how these clays function in the digestive tract and to draw parallels and distinctions between the types of clays consumers are able to buy in the United States.

Julie Griffin in 2009

Posted May 12, 2010

Global sea level has been thought to be consistently rising for the past 20,000 years. Recently, new technology and research has indicated to scientists that sea level has fell approximately three times since the Last Glacial Maximum, and risen from each fall. I am researching this concept of sea level dropping by determining the formation of a series of ridges on Cedar Island, located in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. To study the history of these ridges, I am working with three sediment cores that my advisor, Don Barber, took in 2005 on a ridge in the middle of the 19 sequential ridge construction. Some of the experiments that I have run on the cores include making observations of all the samples from each part of the core, and diagramming my results. Also for each sample I am wet sieving for particle size analysis, and performing loss on ignition to determine the percentage of organic matter in each section of the core. For the deepest samples, I selected material that I thought could be radio carbon dated to determine approximate ages for the cores. These tests, and hopefully some field work taking more sediment cores, will aid me in constructing images of how each ridge was created, depositional environments, and overall how the ridges formed. By determining the order of formation of the sequential ridges, I will be able to see whether sea level was rising or falling during the time period of the creation of the ridges. Through this study, I will contribute research to other pieces of global data that attempts to determine the progression of sea level over the past 20,000 years.

Improving Education on Energy Resources and Environmental Policy

Posted May 12, 2010

As global economies pump greenhouse gases and other emissions into the atmosphere, causing a variety of negative environmental impacts, the supply of non-renewable fossil fuels that the world relies on for energy is being rapidly consumed. In order to address this unsustainable situation, improved education regarding the associated issues, including climate change is a critical need. Through expanded education about the environmental, economic and social impacts of the changing climate, we will reach a point of literacy at which students are better able to assess what is being done to counteract these effects and what more there is to do in the line of policy and technology. This project explores some of the methods of teaching climate change issues with a focus on alternative and renewable energy resources and the relevant public policy issues. Students will begin the semester with an exploration of climate change and other impacts of our energy consumption patterns. They will explore issues of energy usage and sustainability for the growing world population, taking into account the developing market for alternative and renewable energy.

Monitoring Bryn Mawr College’s Waterways: Using Technology To Teach About The Environment

Posted May 10, 2010

This summer I am monitoring the water quality in BMC’s Rhoads Pond and its discharge into neighboring Mill Creek. While monitoring BMC’s waterways has little relevance in the greater scheme of things, I see infinite potential in such a small water system’s ability to teach about the macrocosm of environmental cycles. Using an ion chromatograph and various sensors, I am analyzing the chemical/physical properties of the water at five temporally and spatially-discreet locations. I am in the process of requesting funds to purchase data logging equipment to monitor the waterways with greater resolution. Kaitlin Friedman BMC ’07 will be helping me examine the pond water over the course of the summer with a focus on creating a kid-friendly teaching plan to accompany our results. To aid this process, I am creating the Bryn Mawr College Environmental Database (BMCED) on the national geology GEON computers to serve as an educational tool. BMCED will allow visitors to create dynamic graphs of the data Kaitlin and I are compiling this summer as well as data gathered in the past (and hopefully in the future) by introductory geology classes. If the database is successful and used in future years, a truly robust and educationally useful dataset about BMC’s waterway can be produced.

Field geophysics, mapping and sedimentology of modern and ancient barrier shorelines, coastal North Carolina

Posted May 10, 2010

Sandy barrier islands form most of the North Carolina coast. While these islands protect the bays and estuarine shoreline from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, the sandy barrier islands themselves are constantly changing. By studying how these islands have changed in the past, we can help coastal communities anticipate future shoreline change. Using a global positioning system (GPS) we will map the shorelines of the North Bay Barrier, Cedar Island, and also investigate localized areas along Core Banks near Cape Lookout. We will use geographic information system software to compare our precise shoreline measurements with older charts (from the last 150 years) to determine how the island contours have changed. The GPS shoreline locations that we measure will also provide baseline data against which future changes can be monitored.