Photo of Physical Geography and Geology Student, Caroline Binns

Physical Geography and Geology Student, Caroline Binns

Over the Summer, Physical Geography and Geology student, Caroline Binns conducted laboratory work for Dr Joanne Egan on her research project entitled: “Advancing Tephrochronology in Pacific Northwest of North America”.

Caroline applied for the Research Assistant role in May, which was funded by Edge Hill’s Student Opportunity Fund. Caroline spent six weeks sampling sediment cores from North America and performing various complex procedures on the samples to try and locate volcanic ash (also known as Tephra).

Details of the project

Image of the Geography and Geology lab, with Caroline working with specific pieces of equipment and materials.

Caroline hard at work in the Geography and Geology laboratory

This project proposes the analysis and compilation of highly valuable tephrochronological data (volcanic ash used as a marker for determining the age of geological sediments) from lake sediment cores collected from Washington, USA in 2014. The analysis will expand current knowledge of volcanic ash extent, eruption frequency and magnitude during the Holocene (last 10,000 years). Most importantly for the geochronological scientific community, this research will refine the age of tephra deposits, which can be subsequently used as geochronological markers in future environmental reconstructions.

Currently, there is a lot of discrepancy and missing data within American tephrochronology. The laboratory analyses consist of identifying tephra (volcanic ash) within the lake sediment core spanning the last 10,000 years, determining its source through geochemical analysis involving microprobe analysis and utilising Radiocarbon Dating techniques to determine the age of the deposit.

Dr Joanne Egan said:

Dr Joanne EganIt has been an absolute pleasure working with Caroline on this project. She has shown so much enthusiasm and has great initiative when working in the laboratory. Caroline can now put this Research Assistant role on her CV, which will be a real bonus when she applies for jobs in the future.  This role was funded by the Student Opportunity Fund at Edge Hill, I cannot recommend enough that students take some time to have a look at the opportunities that are available through this. I have really enjoyed working with Caroline and it will be sad to see her time on the project come to an end.

Caroline expressed her enjoyment whilst working on the project stating:

A picture of Caroline standing at a field site in Tenerife, clearing enjoying herself.

Caroline on her 2nd year field course to Tenerife

I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to work as Jo’s Research Assistant. In such a short period of time I have learnt so much about not only tephra, but also the effort and processes required for any research project. I have really enjoyed working with Jo and learning from her, as well as developing my own lab skills. It is definitely a role I would have the confidence in applying for as a graduate now that I’ve had this opportunity and I feel it’s opened up a lot of other avenues for me going forward. I would recommend that anyone applies for any opportunity the department offers in the future as it’s been nothing but an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Caroline is due to start her final year in September and we look forward to her continued enthusiasm for the subject!