Sediment Cores Reveal the History of the Pacific Ocean
USGS scientist Summer Praetorius of the Geology, Minerals, Energy, & Geophysics (GMEG) Science Center collects samples from an ocean sediment core in the Pacific Ocean Paleoclimatology Lab at Menlo Park, CA. The sediment core is from Tanner Basin, located about 200 miles due west of San Diego in the eastern Pacific Ocean. This area is the southern-most extension of the California Current upwelling system, which brings cold nutrient-rich waters from the deep into the surface ocean and drives rich California marine ecosystems, such as the iconic kelp forests. The kelp forests are hotspots for marine biodiversity, major fisheries, and provide other critical ecosystem services, such as wave mitigation and protection against coastal erosion. Studies of this sediment core will yield information about past sea surface temperatures, phytoplankton abundance, and ocean circulation that will be used to better understand the future of California’s vital marine resources.