Today, we were all still a little tired from our Datapalooza yesterday. It was a long day, but we finally got a chance to interpret our data and explore a few topics for our abstracts. We finished sorting and identifying the mollusks from Batch 3 today, which means only one more batch to go. We edited our bathymetric profile for Shad Pond and finalized all of our graphs so that they’re ready to be put on posters for presentation. Everything is finally coming together, and we’re all just about ready to start writing abstracts. It’s amazing that we only have a week left here. For my abstract, I will be focusing on the peat layer found in of our coring sites in Shad Pond. I’m going to study our peat, how it relates to peats in other parts of the world, and try to establish a sea level record for Shad Pond.
After work, Miranda, Asia and I went to Punch Pizza. It was a much-needed meal after a long day of work. We also went to Chilly Billy’s for frozen yogurt afterwards. It was a very nice day with good weather, although it was unusually windy at times. We’re all looking forward to a day off tomorrow, maybe we’ll even go to Lake Calhoun beach if it’s nice enough.
This morning, Miranda, Zohra, and I went to Shepherd Labs to weigh more mollusks while everyone else congregated in Pillsbury to get ready for our Datapalooza! When we were done with weighing samples, we grabbed a much needed coffee from Starbucks (our new favorite is the Iced Kenya, try it!) and headed to Pillsbury to meet up with everyone else in the conference room. When we arrived, almost all of our mentors from the past 7 weeks were present. Lisa, Amy, Brady, June, Dr. Kjellmark, and Dr. Berman were there in person and Wally and Ilya were connected via Skype. Shad Pond presented their data first and we, Duck Pond Blue Hole, went after. By the time we were done with our presentations and hearing the mentors’ critiques, it was time for lunch!
Lunch was catered in by Zakia, a Lebanese restaurant located in Northeast Minneapolis. The food was SO DELICIOUS. There were stuffed grape leaves, rice, pita, hummus, and lots of other things that I don’t remember the names of. During lunch and for the rest of the afternoon, we discussed our data with everyone present as well as Dr. Erik Brown from the Large Lakes Observatory, who joined us shortly after lunch. We reconfigured charts and graphs, discussed abstracts, and talked about how our XRF data can provide information about the history of our lakes. It was neat to see how each person from their own specialty contributed to our project. After a few hours of hypothesizing, we started to talk about who would be going to GSA or AGU in the fall and what we would be presenting. We came up with ideas for abstracts that will lead to us presenting a poster at these conferences in a few months. Our abstract ideas included talking about the overall history of each lake but also included more specific topics such as the peat found in Shad Pond or the mollusk patterns present in Duck Pond Blue Hole. We will be writing our abstracts and making our posters next week because next Thursday is our last day together.
After a long day of data presentations, everyone posed for a group photo outside of Pillsbury Hall and then walked over to Dinkytown for a nice dinner at the Loring Pasta Bar. One thing that we did at dinner was put our cell phones in the middle of the table so that we could be fully engaged with each other and not be distracted with our phones. If someone was to grab for their phone, they had to pay for everyone else’s dinner! Obviously, no one touched the phones for the whole dinner and we all reaped the benefits of being fully “present” at dinner and not stuck in our own little techno-worlds. Following dinner, we went home to Centennial Hall and relaxed. Asia, Miranda and Molly went to hot yoga then we all hit they hay pretty early because we had work the next day!
Peppermints and Parks. Pizzas and Paloozas
We spent all of today plotting data in preparation for the much anticipated Data Palooza! Between organizing all of our data, listening to presentations, and counting mollusks, the day went by fairly quickly. That morning, I worked with my group on Shad Pond’s data presentation while the other half of the group worked on their Duck Pond data. During lunch, we all attended Paul’s (a graduate student from Northern Arizona University) presentation on multi-proxy records of climate in southern Alaska. His work on the volcanic ash record of southern Alaska was specifically interesting to me. After his presentation, our group took a coffee break and went to this cute boutique in Dinkytown, Peppermint Park. We ended up getting a great deal on shoes for 60% off of the original price! After our coffee/shoe break, we returned back to the lab to do some mollusk identification. At the beginning of the week, I did not think we would get that far with the mollusk identification process. But by the end of today, I left the lab with a new hope that we would be able to finish the rest of batches three and four by the end of the week. To end our work day, our mentor, Dr. Myrbo gave us a presentation on radio carbon dating and how to apply those methods to our cores.
After work, our group split up. Some people went to go grab dinner and some went to the gym. But I went shopping again! I took the bus to uptown to go look at some of the shops in the area. The bus ride uptown took a while, but it gave me time to think and reflect. During the bus ride, it occurred to me that I was only going to be in Minneapolis for nine more days. The thought made me smile because I realized how lucky I am to have had this opportunity to grow and become more in tune with myself.
Today I helped Zohra sieve our mollusk samples in Shepherd Lab. The procedure was similar to the one we used in Duluth except we had larger size sieve holes in Duluth. I found the sieving to be fairly relaxing. I think this is because of the ease and monotony of it. Looking at the samples and knowing approximately where they were taken, I realized that I am starting to get to know our cores pretty well. Sarah, Zohra and I went to punch for lunch for the second day in a row (it was one of the things we missed most while in Duluth). After lunch, Dan and I worked on making composite XRF tables and graphs. In Duluth we had made graphs for each core, but today we made one graph for each of the three sites. Instead of graphing the depth, we used the dates from the radiocarbon dating and extrapolated points when necessary.
After work, Asia, Sarah, Zohra and I went to Uptown, a place that I had not previously explored. We went into a few shops and Lunds. There were many restaurants that looked good but we had already eaten dinner. We took the bus back and stopped into Chilly Billy’s for Two-Punch Tuesday!! We walked around Dinkytown for a little bit and headed back to the dorms exhausted.
So we are back and ready to take action. Both teams have joined back together and today began our journey to the finish line. Because the Duluth team had finished and plotted all of the XRF and grain size data we had to come in wherever we were needed. Dan and I headed over with Molly and Sam to Shepherd Lab and they showed us the ropes on weighing, recording, and preparing samples for LOI (Loss on Ignition). It was pretty fun but of course super repetitive. Our team only had a few left to finish and we completed the task in about an hour. After learning how to do this we headed back over to Pillsbury and began helping the Duck Pond Blue Hole team in the identification of mollusks. Although this task required extremely steady hands and perfect eyesight it was neat grouping and learning about how different each mollusk was.
I learned so many new things when it involved classifying and grouping the mollusk. We found at least 4 different of species but my favorite one was the Cerithidea costata. It’s a beautiful cone and spiral shaped mollusk that is perfectly shaped. After identifying the mollusks we went out for lunch at Jimmy John’s, which was delicious! Dan and I went back to Shepherd Lab and worked on the next batch of samples that needed to get ready for LOI. We met with Lisa at 3pm to check the status of our team and we gave her a great report. Tomorrow we will finish up plotting the grain size and XRF against the age model as well as complete the bathymetric map for our Pond.
The week’s work activities did not vary much between Monday and Wednesday. We typically began each morning by weighing samples for our loss on ignition (LOI) process. Once all samples were weighed, back into the oven they went for another baking at a higher temperature. Just when we thought the LOI madness had ended, another round of samples needed to be taken from our lake cores. I don’t mind too much doing monotonous tasks, in moderation, but several weeks of this could drive anyone a bit loopy. Thankfully, this was our last week of LOI. After this, we will begin to pull all of our data together for results and conclusions.
We began by cleaning used crucibles from previous LOI batches and got into a rhythm for continuing a batch already in the baking process as well as starting an entire new collection of samples from our last two cores. So many fours, fives, and sixes were called out during the clockwork of weighing activities that I think we all felt a little dyslexic by lunch. After lunch I continued with the mollusk sampling we’d begun a day or two before. There were only about thirty or so samples, so I was able to weigh and transport them into containers fairly quickly.
By the time the others arrived, I was nearly finished with mollusk weighing. As our LOI crucibles were either cleaned or baking in the oven, there was nothing else we could do until they were finished cooking and cooling. The other team had some smear slides to continue looking through to find samples for the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope), so the two of them went back to the other lab and got to work on their extensive collection of materials. My team, however, had already finished going through our slides and decided to get started on the mollusk identification process. Taking samples that had already been weighed and dried, we poured the materials out onto black construction paper and tried our best to distinguish between grains of sand and the smallest mollusk shells you could imagine. Fortunately, a field guide and work from previous teams’ efforts made identifying the shells somewhat easier. It was a slow process in the beginning, but I think over time we will learn tricks to make the identification go a bit faster.
Today was our second to last day in Duluth! It started without much excitement. We arrived at the lab and all sat in the fireplace room and plotted XRF data. Our graphs showed some interesting trends and we learned all about the chlorine, calcium, titanium, iron, and strontium in our lakes. Lisa gave us a lecture in the afternoon about what these elements are proxies for and how to interpret the graphs. I look forward to collaborating with the Minneapolis group and synthesizing all of our data next week.
After work, we took a quick nap, ate some dinner, and then went to Enger Tower! Enger Tower is a lookout and garden area up in the hills of Duluth. We got to the top and had a spectacular view of downtown Duluth, Canal Park, and Lake Superior. We walked around Enger Park for a little bit and then took a short hike. Afterwards, Lisa, Asia, Dan and I went for ice cream at the Malt Shoppe on the Lakewalk and Miranda went for a run. Tomorrow is our last day in Duluth and we hope to do some more sightseeing before heading back to Minneapolis!