Reconstructing Climate and Environmental Change with Sediments

Our goals are to provide information on how coastal environments and ecosystems developed into their present state, and how they are likely to change in the future from climate change. More specifically, our research team uses the sediments archived in sinkholes, flooded caves, and other coastal environments to better understand how climate, sea level, terrestrial landscapes, and coastal regions have changed over thousands of years. However, collecting sediment cores is just the first first step. After collection, sediment cores are transported back to the laboratory where they undergo a rigorous multi-proxy analysis, which includes analysis of microfossils (e.g., ostracodes, foraminifera, testate amoebae), sediment geochemistry (stable isotopes, trace metals, organic matter analysis), radiometric dating, and other techniques.

In many cases, the only way we can collect sediment cores is by scientific diving methods, especially in underwater caves. Graduate students in our group can expect to gain considerable field experience, and typically travel as part of their course of study. We have ongoing research projects in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Mexico, Cozumel, Bermuda, and Florida.

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Research Products

(*denotes TAMUG students)

van Hengstum, PJ, Donnelly, JP, Fall, PL, Toomey, MR, Albury, NA, Kakuk, B, 2016, The intertropical convergence zone modulates intense hurricane strikes on the western North Atlantic margin, Scientific Reports 6, 21728; doi: 10.1038/srep21728.

Winkler*, TS, van Hengstum, PJ, Horgan*, MC, Donnelly, JP, Reibenspies, JH, 2016, Detrital cave sediments reveal late Quaternary hydrologic and climatic variability in northwestern Florida, USA, Sedimentary Geology 335, 51-65.

van Hengstum, PJ, Donnelly, JP, Kingston, AW, Williams, B., Scott, DB, Reinhardt, EG, *Little, SN, Patterson, W, 2016, Late Holocene low frequency storminess in Bermuda linked to cooling events in the North Atlantic region. Paleoceanography 30 (2), 52-76.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Pete J. van Hengstum

Pete van Hengstum, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Marine Sciences
1001 Texas Clipper Rd
Bld# 3029, Office 357
Galveston, TX, 77554 USA

Phone: (409) 740-4919