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Research — Paleoclimatology




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Estancia Basin is a laboratory for climate research
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Estancia basin meteorological station

Bruce D. Allen, Bureau of Geology field geologist, is studying the hydrology of the playa lakes in the Estancia basin in order to reconstruct major changes in climate that have affected this region in the past. Dr. Allen and researchers from the University of New Mexico have instrumented the playas with a network of meteorological stations and piezometers to track seasonal changes in climate and groundwater flow systems.

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Ice layers in Antarctica hold secrets to the global climate past
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A team of scientists from the Bureau of Geology has spent many Antarctic summers sampling layers of volcanic ash trapped between layers of ice to learn about climate conditions that existed at the time of the ice deposition. While the volcanic ash can be dated to constrain the time of deposition, oxygen isotope signatures in the ice reveal clues about temperatures that existed as the layers were deposited.

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Volcanic record in Antarctic ice
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Volcanic ash and associated aerosol layers in glacier ice offer a uniquely complete record of explosive volcanism. Investigation of these layers, both in bare ice areas of and in ice cores offers insight into eruptive processes, local and regional ice flow processes, and the impact of eruptions on global systems (climate and ozone depletion). The Antarctic ice sheet is an ideal place to preserve a record of volcanic eruptions. The combination of chemical fingerprinting of glass shards, and chemical analysis of volcanic aerosols associated with tephra layers in Antarctic blue ice allows establishment of a high-resolution chronology of local and distant volcanism that can help understand patterns of significant explosive volcanism, atmospheric loading, and climatic effects associated with volcanic eruptions.

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