Six Wesleyan researchers, including a graduate student, were authors or co-authors of papers chosen for presentation at this year’s annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Minneapolis, Minn., Oct. 9-12. It is the largest annual meeting of the preeminent scientific association in the geologic and earth science fields.
Johan Varekamp, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Sciences, professor of earth and environmental sciences, presented two papers. The first, “Wethersfield Cove, Hartford, Conn. – A 300 Year Urban Pollution Record,” detailed a study of the sedimentary record of the cove, which revealed unusually high levels of Mercury. The cove, which had been surround by economic activity since colonial times, showed sedimentary mercury levels as high as 3,000 parts per billion.
The study has become the subject of a front-page feature in The Hartford Courant featuring Varekamp and three graduate students from his Graduate of Liberal Studies (GLSP) class, Kristen Amore, Julia Rowny and Luis Rodriguez, assistant store manager at Cardinal Technologies, who joined Varekamp to do ongoing samplings of the cove.
Varekamp also was asked to present his paper, Lake Caviahue (Argentina) Nearing Schwertmannite Saturation, which charted the chemistry-altering changes in the lake since the eruption of the Copahue volcano in 2000.
The paper was co-authored by Varekamp’s former graduate student Tristan Kading MA ’10, who is now a Ph.D. candidate at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Kading did much of his master’s study on Lake Caviahue.
The volcano’s runoff into Lake Caviahue has raised the lake’s acidity over the last 11 years creating a near saturation of the mineral schwertmannite, which has given the water a yellow-brown color.