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Research Spotlight Summer 2020

Students working in the field

Every summer our geosciences students conduct field and lab work. This past summer REU student Jennah Ruebans conducted a 10-week project looking at the geologic structure of wetlands on eastern Kentucky ridgetops near Cave Run Lake. The goal of this research was to understand how wetlands on mountain tops might have groundwater resources beneath them and to get an idea of how these wetlands relate to geologic processes. Jennah investigated the ridgetops by hiking a small auger rig up to 3 miles into forested back country to collect soil cores. Cores were collected in a straight line through the center of a wetland and compared on a map to look at the structure of the wetland. Her interesting results show that ridgetop wetlands in eastern Kentucky have an impermeable clay layer underneath them that is shaped like a bowl. This allows the soil to collect and trap rainwater underground for extended periods of time. In the spring time the water levels are high and water seeps downslope to springs at the base of the mountain. During summer drought the trees take up the water for survival. Her results will be presented at the Geological Society of America’s national conference in October.

Published on August 18, 2020

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