Project Overview

Marine Sedimentary Records from the Antarctic

Faculty Sponsor

Amy Leventer (




Marine Sedimentary Records from the Antarctic:
Over the past two decades, polar researchers have observed the impact of global change on the Southern Ocean and Antarctic coastal areas.  These changes include warming atmospheric and oceanic temperatures, decreased sea ice extent, loss of glacial ice, the retreat and disintegration of ice shelves, and changes in biological communities. Recent change can be placed into a longer-term perspective through the study of sediment cores that record the depositional history of the area. Multi-proxy analyses of sediment cores can reveal variations in paleoenvironment, and expand our understanding of the geologic history during the past 10,000-15,000 years.  The objective of this project is to reconstruct climatic and oceanographic history of the region using the frustules or shells of diatoms, single-celled algae that are highly sensitive to environmental conditions, including water temperature, nutrient concentration and in the polar oceans, overlying sea ice. Their opaline silica shells are exceptionally well preserved in cold Antarctic waters, and provide a permanent record of upper ocean conditions. Samples from my most recent research projects in the Antarctic remain to be studied.  The summer research student will process the marine sediment, prepare quantitative slides from the samples, and complete a quantitative analysis of the slides, via light microscopy and photography. Through the course of this project students will develop an understanding of the significance of paleoclimate research, and of the fundamental methods by which this kind of research is conducted. More specifically, the student will develop taxonomic skills and learn how to interpret micropaleontologic data within the framework of a multi-proxy data set.  Other skills to be acquired include working with Excel, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. 

Student Qualifications

experience with light microscopy

Number of Student Researchers

1-2 student

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2020 and close on 03/11/2020

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (