Abstract by Nathan Gunnell

Personal Infomation

Presenter's Name

Nathan Gunnell

Degree Level


Abstract Infomation


Geological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Steve Nelson


Isotopic and Elemental Analysis of the Anthropogenic Impact in Farmington Bay


Influence of human activity on surrounding environments is an important field of research.  With respect to aquatic settings, lacustrine deposits provide excellent proxies of environmental change since the sediment accumulates at a relatively constant rate, recording environmental change.  This study employs isotopic, mineral, and chemical records from Farmington Bay freeze cores, in particular δ13C, δ15N, and 210Pb isotopes as well as phosphorus level fluctuation.  In particular, δ15N provides a record of changing nutrient sources and 210Pb isotopes permit estimation of the age of sediment with depth. 

Results from these 210Pb isotopes have allowed ages to be assigned to depths along the core dating back roughly 100 years at 30 cm.  At this depth, a dramatic shift in the δ15N isotope is observed.  Initial δ15N levels indicated a nutrient source related to agriculture.  However, beginning around 100 years ago, the δ15N shows the main nutrient source for the bay became wastewater which correlates to the completion of a sewage canal in 1911 that began routing wastewater directly into the bay. Results have also shown a large rise in phosphorus levels beginning around 1970.