Stories in mud: How, why lake cores are collected

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week’s contribution is from Lauren Harrison, a postdoctoral researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey, and Cathy Whitlock, an emeritus professor at Montana State University.

Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in Yellowstone National Park, and has been studied using submersible vehicle, acoustic mapping, geophysical (seismic) reflection surveying and lake coring. The record of sediments in the bottom of the lake is especially valuable, as these sediments contain evidence of everything from past hydrothermal explosions to climate shifts over time. Although still logistically challenging, the large amount of scientific equipment for this work was delivered to Yellowstone Lake relatively efficiently using existing roads and cars. However, many small lakes are far from roads. How do researchers access the sedimentary records held in these small lakes? The answer comes with the help of multiple species and a lot of work.

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In the summer of 2022, scientists with a National Park Service research permit collected cores from a small lake located four miles into the backcountry of Lower Geyser Basin. This distance was

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