Scientist Highlight: Adam Guo Leads Summer Program for Future Earth Scientists

Adam Guo is a geology professor at the California State University, Bakersfield USA, who conducts research on paleoclimate by studying sediments of recent geological time (Holocene). Adam joined Expedition 359 to study paleoclimatic change of the Indian Ocean and Maldives Inner Sea to research paleoclimatic changes of up to 23 Ma ago. He hopes to gain a better understanding of global climate change during the Miocene.

Summer 2015 Adam lead a research project for high school students called REVUS UP, which was held at the  School of Natural Science, Mathematics,  and Engineering at California State University in Bakersfield USA. This summer program was geared towards high school student and intended to increase interest in science and mathematics careers. The research project offered 6 local high school students hands-on research experience.

Students studied sediment samples from Tulare Lake, which was freshwater lake in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California between the Coast Ranges and the Sierra Nevada. The lake sediments  provide important data source toward the understanding of paleoclimatic change in the western North America following the most recent ice age.

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In this study students analyzed clay-sized mineralogy  on a suite of 20 lake sediment samples from Tulare Lake  performed on an X-ray Diffractometer (AXD). The results from this analysis allowed students to learn more about environmental changes in the southwestern North America during formation of the profile.



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Students preparing sediment samples and collecting XRD data

Students investigated the mineral composition to gain an understanding of lakes post-glacial environment. The data reveal an abrupt increase in clay and illite+ clorite content occurred about 14,500 yeas ago, which correlates to the end of the most recent glacial period (i.e, the Tioga). One of the conclusions students make based on their results was that increases of clay and illite + clorite content verify the intensified physical weathering processes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Through this research project Adam hopes that the students realize how climate change impacts our daily lives. He wants all his students to know that knowledge gained from paleoenvironmental research can tell us about our present environment.