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Undergraduate research initiative: Antarctic marine geology and geophysics

Eugene W. Domack, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York 13323

A new initiative for undergraduate research in Antarctica was begun in 1996 with the establishment of a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site at Hamilton College. Although undergraduate participation in antarctic fieldwork and research has been conducted for a number of years, no formal organization of undergraduate participation was in place outside of those institutions that normally conduct antarctic science. The purpose of this program was to allow undergraduate students from institutions across the country to become involved in antarctic scientific work aboard U.S. Antarctic Program vessels.

The program began with national advertisement in EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union and a mailing to all geology departments in the country. Approximately, 100 letters of interest were entertained and, of these, about 50 resulted in applications for participation. Students were selected based on letters of support, academic standing, and willingness of a home institution sponsor to coordinate the student research. Students were matched with principal investigators from those programs that were awarded National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs, grants to work on U.S. Antarctic Program vessels (table). Available space, research needs, and student background were all important considerations in selecting students. Six students were selected for the 1995-1996 field season and two students were selected for the 1996-1997 season (table).

All students ( figure 1) participated in a week-long seminar at Hamilton College that was taught with help from Matt Kirby (a past REU participant who now teaches science at Canisius High School, Buffalo, New York), Scott Ishman (U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia), and Stephanie Shipp (Rice University, Houston, Texas). During the seminar, REU students were given a chance to learn about the antarctic region through discussions and exercises on geography, oceanography, marine geology, glaciology, meteorology, and paleoclimate ( figure 2). This program followed the outline of a similar course that has been offered at Hamilton College since 1987. Logistical information was also reviewed at this time, and students were given some preliminary information on their cruise objectives, methodologies, and expected shipboard behavior.

Cruises took place aboard the R/V Polar Duke and R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer (table) across regions that varied from the Bransfield Strait (L. Lawver) to the Ross Sea (L. Bartek). Postcruise research took place at the home institutions and involved data collected during the cruise or previously collected marine geologic data. Projects ranged from multibeam imaging of seamounts in the Amundsen Sea (M. Feldburg) to paleoclimate records in glacial marine sediments of the Antarctic Peninsula (A. Shevenell). Early indications are that the program was a great success due in large part to the cooperation between principal investigators, home sponsors, and the support staff at Antarctic Support Associates. Preliminary publications are listed at the end of this article.

This program was supported by National Science Foundation grant OPP 94-18153 to Hamilton College. We acknowledge the support of the principal investigators (Steve Cande, Lou Bartek, Larry Lawver, Dave Karl, and R. Dunbar) and home institution sponsors (Patricia Manley, William Mode, Suzanne O'Connell, and Emily Cobabe).

Publications resulting from this program

LoPiccolo, M. 1996. Productivity meltwater cycles in Andvord Bay, Antarctica: Evidence of high frequency paleoclimatic fluctuations. (B.A. thesis, HamiltonCollege, Clinton, New York.)

LoPiccolo, M. In preparation. Productivity and meltwater cycles in Andvord Bay, Antarctica. Sedimentology.

Shevenell, A.E. 1996. Record of Holocene paleoclimatic change along the Antarctic Peninsula: Evidence from glacial marine sediments, Lallemand Fjord. (B.A. thesis, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York.)

Shevenell, A.E., and E.W. Domack. In preparation. Record of Holocene paleoclimatic change along the Antarctic Peninsula: Evidence from glacial marine sediments, Lallemand Fjord. In M. Banks and M.J. Brown (Eds.), Climate of the Southern Hemisphere (Special publication). Tasmania: Royal Society of Tasmania.

Shevenell, A.E., M. LoPiccolo, B.T. Straten, and E.W. Domack. 1996. Holocene paleoenvironmental studies within antarctic fjords along the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. In Understanding hypsithermal and neoglacial fluctuations, Northeast Geological Society of America meeting, abstracts with programs.

Straten, B.T. 1996. Evidence for gravity flows as sediment transport systems from high resolution seismic reflection data and piston cores taken from Admiralty Bay, King George Island, Antarctica. (B.A. thesis, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York.)