Caitlin departed on the R/V Weatherbird II last weekend to collect samples from, and redeploy, sediment traps in the Gulf of Mexico. She will be joined by a group of Eckerd College students for their first research cruise experience.
Caitlin Reynolds is out at sea to continue a study on sediment flux in the Gulf of Mexico
Scientists at the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) have been studying paleoclimate records in the Gulf of Mexico for over a decade. The team uses sediment traps to collect foraminifera, or “forams”—tiny, shelled organisms whose chemistry reflects the temperature and environmental conditions of the water around them—to define relationships between foram shell chemistry and sea surface temperature. The funnel-shaped traps collect the forams as they fall through the water column within certain time periods. The forams that reach the bottom of the ocean remain and pile up in layers provide a time series of temperature data that scientists can examine by collecting and analyzing sediment cores from the ocean floor. The composition and abundance of foraminifera species can also provide valuable information about temperature and seasonality in the past.
This research cruise is taking place from 5/14-18/2022 on the R/V Weatherbird II, operated by the Florida Institute of Oceanography housed at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science. The cruise is part of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Scientist-at-Sea grant awarded to Eckerd College and partners at USGS and USF. Caitlin Reynolds of the SPCMSC is on board this week with the Eckerd College students to retrieve samples from the sediment traps and collect sediment cores in the Gulf to aid this research. Understanding foraminifera chemistry, abundance, and species composition both in the present and throughout the past can help us better understand natural climate variability so that we can be better prepared for future changes in climate.