The fieldwork is done and now the time comes for the next phase of the process… proposal writing! This summer, I spent the month of July in Thule, northwestern Greenland (you can access my older posts here). I sampled large, glacially-transported boulders for cosmogenic dating as well as marine shells for radiocarbon dating. Now, my task is to obtain the funds to support the analytical costs of processing and measuring the samples.
View towards Wolstenholme Fjord and North Ice Cap in Thule. A spectacular area!
The goal of this work is to unravel the landscape history of the Thule area. In particular, I am interested in how this complex landscape has evolved over both space and time. After spending three field seasons in Thule, I’ve had ample opportunity to observe the landscape and have identified two different units of glacial sediment that are in separate, but adjacent, areas. For each of these sedimentary units, I will explore the following questions:
1.) How old are the sediments? Were they deposited during the most recent glacial period, or are they a product of an older glaciation?
2.) What is the surface history of the sediments? How long have they been exposed, and do they record times of burial by non-erosive glacial ice?
3.) How erosive was the glacial ice that covered the landscape? Was it an effective agent of change, or was it non-erosive and capable of preserving a relict surface?
4.) What body of glacial ice deposited the sediments? Were they deposited by the Greenland Ice Sheet or by a small outlet glacier during a subsequent re-advance?
A gorgeous (and very large) glacial moraine near Thule. How old was the ice advance that deposited this moraine?? Hopefully I’ll be able to answer that question later this year!
Through my exploration of these questions, I will address not only the history of the Thule area, but also fundamental questions about the landscape evolution processes at play. Because the area around Thule is complex both spatially and temporally, it provides an ideal opportunity to study a wide range of processes that drive landscape evolution at high latitudes.
The process of writing this proposal has been a very valuable learning experience for me. It has encouraged me to think about the larger significance of my work; in essence, taking my work from a “postage stamp” project (i.e. one that addresses a small, specific area) to a larger and more relevant project addressing ideas that are widely transferable to other areas.
I look forwards to learning more about high-latitude landscape evolution over the coming year!
Panoramic view across the Thule landscape, looking towards Wolstenholme Fjord (photo courtesy of my fabulous field assistant Everett Lasher).