Valerie Schwartz


I am in the Pacific Ocean Climate Variability research group and our current project focuses on gathering and producing high-resolution proxy records of past ocean and climate conditions, including SST and productivity, from the Pacific margins between southeastern Alaska and Mexico during the Holocene (the last 11,700 years). I work in the biogenic opal geochemistry and diatom labs, and am trained to operate our GEOTEK multi-sensor lore logger, line-scan camera, and core scanning XRF. Additionally, our lab is in the process of installing an Elementar Vario Micro Cube CHNSO combustion elemental analyzer. My fieldwork experience includes both marine and lacustrine coring excursions, taking CTD measurements and water samples, I have worked with various types of corers and associated equipmet including, gravity, vibra, box, ekman dredge, surface, livingstone, bolivia, and freeze corers.

My research throughout graduate school focused on California margin primary productivity during the Pliocene (2.5-5 million years ago). The Pliocene is the most recent time in Earth history when average global temperatures were warmer than they are today, and understanding the processes that coincided with the transition to a cooler climate can provide insight into possible climate feedbacks in an anthropogenically warmed climate. I examined the phytoplankton communities and productivity records present in cored sediment, using a variety of methods including smear slide, particle size, and biogenic opal analyses. I also use alkenones as a sea surface temperature (SST) proxy, and alkenone mass accumulation rates (MAR) as an indicator for general overall productivity. Look for a publication of this work in the near future. 

My current projects include:

-Identifying changes in primary productivity over the last 2000 years from three sediment cores from Guaymas Basin located in the central Gulf of California using strewn slides and biogenic opal analysis. This includes identifying the local diatom species present throughout the core record to test the hypothesis that surface water productivity of the eastern and western portions of the Guaymas Basin responded differently to late Holocene climatic forcings. 

-Biogenic opal analysis of recently gathered Holocene-aged from Monterey Bay/shelf marine sediment cores. Because of the relatively high sedimentation rates in the area, we hope to be able to generate high-resolution records covering the transition to the modern local oceanic regime, as well as the Medieval Climate Anomaly (~AD 950-1250), and the Little Ice Age (~AD 1350-1850).

-Setting up newly acquired laboratory space, facilities, and instrumentation for the Pacific Ocean Climate Variability Marine research group.



2014 - M.S., Geosciences with a focus on Paleoceanography, San Francisco State University

2011 - B.A., Geosciences with a minor in Chemistry, Skidmore College