Monday, 7 July 2014

The Ohrid Sequel: Cheshire Mere... by Jack Lacey

Myself (left) and my collaborators on Rostherne Mere
(Prof Melanie Leng, Dr Dave Ryves and Dr Chris Vane).
Jack Lacey is a familiar face to the blog. Over the last 16 months he's taken us along on amazing fieldwork adventures to Lake Ohrid, drilling through 3 million years of Earth's history and looking for the impacts of volcanic super eruptions using lake sediment records. But this was just phase 1 of his PhD research. Here Jack tells us what's in store for Phase 2 as he works within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, a collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the BGS.

I have recently moved to the University of Nottingham to begin phase II of my PhD research. This is going to involve learning lots of geochemistry techniques in order to improve methods for understanding past environments and climate.
Rowing out to the sampling sites on
Rostherne Mere
On the first day I went with my team of collaborators to take samples from a Cheshire Mere very close to Manchester airport. The Meres were formed at the end of the last Ice Age (c. 12000 years ago) when most of the UK was buried deep in snow and ice.  As climate warmed, the ice started to melt leaving huge holes which quickly filled up with water. These so called Kettle Holes today form the Meres, are great for wildlife and are mostly beautiful lakes surrounded by native woodland, extensive reed beds and ancient villages.

My project on the Meres involves collecting the sediments that are accumulating in the lake and trying to better understand what environmental information we can extract from the organic geochemistry.
I want to be able to assess the different sources of organic matter, whether from aquatic productivity (due to past pollution for example from human sewage that has entered the lakes in the past) or from increased erosion of the soils that surround the lakes due to changes in farming or land management. The sediments have been accumulating for 12000 years, but for now I am focussing on the last few hundred years to see if human impact is recorded in the sediments especially since the Industrial Revolution c. 250 years ago.


Rostherne Mere
 
Understanding past pollution and how lakes respond is important for conservation and protecting our environment.
By Jack Lacey, @JackHLacey
(BGS funded student at the University of Nottingham)

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