Field Work: Coring Lakes in Lofoten, Norway

In northern Norway, general trends of sea level lowering throughout the Holocene have been developed, with sea level in this area lowering ~10m over the past 6000 years. However, the details of this lowering are poorly constrained during the late Holocene (the past ~5000 years) (Møller, 1986). For my senior research project, I am studying sediment records from isolation basins (coastal lakes characterized by their past connection to and isolation from the sea due to relative sea level changes) in Lofoten, Norway. Using these sediment cores, I hope to better constrain the rate and magnitude of sea level lowering during the late Holocene in Norway and to understand how these changes may have affected human activity (think: Vikings) in Lofoten.

For my project, I traveled to Arctic Norway for 10 days of field work, along with my research advisor, Nicholas Balascio, and three of his colleagues, where we collected sediment cores from several isolation basins. We targeted lakes at different elevations above sea level, since these lakes were likely inundated/isolated at different times in the past based on their elevations. The hope is that together these lakes will enable us to piece together the relative sea level history for this area of northern Norway.

Field work was an exciting adventure every day and a huge learning experience. Prior to traveling to Norway, I had never cored a lake before, and what an amazing place to core my first lake! As I learned, coring the lake does not take very long compared to the set-up, which often takes hours. After loading all the equipment into inflatable boats, we drove to the deepest part of the lake (which can take a long time with the tiny motors we used), triple anchored the boat (which can also be challenging with the windy work days we had), and finally set up the ropes and coring device.

To core the lakes, we used a percussion coring device, which we hammered into the lake floor to recover sediment. Each lake was its own challenge, with everything from almost being blown out to sea to recovering long cores (>4m) from several lakes to coarse grained sediments that were difficult to hammer through. Pulling out the cores was often challenging as well. Once the coring device was wedged into the sediment, it had to be pulled back up. Without any mechanical device, we sometimes had to get creative, running back and forth across the boat to leverage the core out with our body weight.

Altogether we returned with ~260 pounds of sediment (which is a lot of overweight baggage)!

Zodiac packed and ready at Ostadvatnet

Zodiac boat packed and ready at Ostadvatnet!

Several of the cores we collected

Several of the sediment cores we collected