Professor Darren Larsen and former student Aria Blumm ’19 analyzed sediment from a glacial lake to learn about glacier fluctuations and climate shifts over the last 10,000 years.

Assistant Professor of Geology Darren Larsen is the lead author on a new research paper in Science Advances along with co-authors Blumm and Sarah Crump of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. The research, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, focuses on the history of the Teton Glacier—an iconic glacier in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park—over the past 10,000 years. Over multiple expeditions, a team of researchers collected sediment core samples extending nearly 40 feet below the bottom of Delta Lake.

The lake’s location just downstream of the glacier has allowed it to collect and preserve layers of sediment deposited by glacier erosion. Components within the sediment like organic material, rock, sand, silt and clay can be analyzed in the lab to reveal a record of past climate and weather patterns.

“One of the motivations for this work to reconstruct past glacier fluctuations is to really get at the underlying changes in climate that drove them,” Larsen says. “Having this continuous sedimentary archive associated with an individual glacier is unusual—this is one of the most well-resolved and most complete glacier records in the western United States.”

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