Glacial history and climate reconstruction from the
South Island, New Zealand


This project is supported by a grant from NOAA, Office of Global Programs
George Denton, Marcus Vandergoes,
Ann Dieffenbacher-Krall
January 15, 2004 to February 28, 2005
Week 1
Chironomid head capsule

Downs Hut

late-glacial moraines up-valley from Quagmire Tarn

Basal core, Quagmire tarn, showing blue silt organic transition

Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki

Ann, Jeremy coring Quagmire Tarn

Drosera on Quagmire tarn

We began this year’s fieldwork in Auckland, N.Z. by meeting with New Zealand researchers Ian Boothroyd and Craig Woodward, both of whom are working with New Zealand chironomids. Dr. Boothroyd has spent years surveying and classifying the species found in New Zealand, some of which are endemic, occurring no where else in the world. Craig is a University of Canterbury doctoral student who, like us, is looking at chironomid remains from lake sediment surface samples across New Zealand to determine ecological preferences. Our work is complementary as we are focusing on different parameters. We met to standardize our identification criteria. By ensuring that we are calling the same chironomid types by the same names, we will be able to better compare our results in the future.

Then it was time to travel to the South Island and our field study area the Southern Alps. At Methven we met up with George Denton and his mapping team and while they began the arduous task of field checking their maps and interpretations we headed into the mountains via four-wheel-drive vehicle to re-core one or our paleo-sites, Quagmire Tarn. We were joined on this trip by collaborating researchers Dr. Rewi Newnham and University of Waikato graduate students Tom Whittaker (ex-U. Maine) and Jeremy Cole-Baker who took on the crucial role of field assistants. Quagmire Tarn is of specific interest to this project as it is situated just beyond a late-glacial-age moraine and contains sediment encompassing the entire last glacial termination. We will be obtaining radiocarbon dates on the sediment to confirm the timing of late glacial events and gain minimal ages for ice recession in the area as well as conducting chironomid and pollen analysis to quantify temperature changes.

Conveniently, the lake is filling in with peat, providing a stable platform from which to core. We obtained four cores going through the peat into the lake sediment below. Accommodation for the night was provided by the Downs Hut, which has been used by farmers mustering the sheep for shearing for more than one hundred years. After stopping of to thank the land owners (Phillip and Ann Todhunter) for access to the site and use of the hut we continued back to Methven.

Go to Week 2