Joseph Liddicoat FDGA 2015

With support from the Teaching Institute's Faculty Development Fund Grants and Awards Program, I did geologic research at Mono Lake, CA, between May 28 and June 4, 2015, and for two weeks after samples were collected in the field at a laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The research was sampling exposed lake sediments that formed about 40,000 years ago containing a record of Earth's past magnetic field; this is a branch of geophysics known as paleomagnetism. The objective of the research was to document an anomalous feature of the paleomagnetic field known as a geomagnetic excursion. The excursion of interest is the Laschamp Excursion that first was discovered in volcanic rocks in France about 100 years ago. It never has been found in North America in exposed rocks because rocks 40,000 years old do not exist in North America except at Mono Lake. During my research I located what seems to be the Laschamp Excursion, and continue to document its presence in the sediment. The importance of the discovery is that it places a critical time line on paleoclimate records in North America during the last Ice Age, called the Pleistocene. That allows records about other large lakes like Lake Bonneville, of which Great Salt Lake, Utah, is a remnant, to be correlated, refining what is understood about global climate change during the Pleistocene and continuing to the present time. This is a topic that I discuss in my Earth Science course (SC 112) each semester at FIT.

The results of my May-June 2015 research at Mono Lake were presented last December at the 2015 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. I will be happy to give a similar presentation about the paleomagnetic field at Mono Lake to interested FIT faculty at any time.


Joseph C. Liddicoat
Adjunct Assistant Professor Department of Mathematics and Science