Geologists famously work on very long time scales, so Dr Chris Moy’s work exploring climate through sediments from the last 12,000 years is mercurial by comparison.
Moy has worked on sediments from Chile and, more recently, New Zealand, looking at lake sediment geochemistry to determine how the strength and position of the westerly wind belt has changed over time.
For the months of June and July, however, he will be taking part in an Integrated Ocean Drilling Program research expedition, exploring very different sediments: layers drilled from the ocean floor off the south coast of Alaska.
“We’ll be looking at the distribution of iron into a nutrient-rich sea – the North Pacific – and how wind-blown material affects algal productivity,” says Moy. “Some of the cores will be much older than my usual 12,000 years and I’m looking forward to that expansion of my research. It’s a great opportunity to build new research collaboration links as well.”
The international research team will investigate the interaction between tectonics, climate and sedimentation in the Gulf of Alaska. For example, how has the lifting of this mountain chain affected weather patterns and, therefore, the distribution and geochemistry of sediment? What can these sediments tells us about climate, looking at biological material and isotopic signatures from land or algal sources?
Being on a ship in the North Pacific won’t get in the way of his teaching however: Moy is Skyping his 200-level sedimentology class while he’s away.