centralia college tree-ring lab*using tree

Using tree rings for undergraduate
(and other) research projects
• Tree rings—a source of accessible data
• Equipment and tools needed for tree ring
• Simple procedures for analyzing tree rings
• Examples of research by CC students
• Research with high school science teachers via
the Murdock Partners in Science program
• Wrap up: pluses and minuses
A short film intro…
• http://www.centralia.edu/academics/earthsci
• “From the core” …a film by Laura Griffiths
about a tree-ring project done in her Weather
and Climate class
Light rings and the volcano/sulfurous aerosols connection
Low density “light
AD 1601
Core from a 750-year
old Douglas-fir at
Cougar Rock
Campground, Mount
Rainier NP, ~3,500 ‘
Briffa etal, Nature, v. 393. 6/4/98 [proxy temp
from low density tree rings]
Mt. Hood: outer
rings of two barkbearing trees cross
dated to A.D. 1781
(Pringle et al, 2002, 2010)
PDSI --Gedalov, Peterson, &
Mantua, 2004.
Subfossil snag in Hidden Lake
outlet Zigzag River, 1781 outer
Cross dating
Andrew Douglass
Markers are narrow rings, light rings (low density), etc
Light rings (low density): 1347, 1371, 1395, 1438, 1448, 1509, 1560,
1579? 1601, 1641, 1696, 1724, 1730, 1742, 1801, 1806, 1809, 1893
Simple methodologies
• Evaluation via microscope and list method
(Yamaguchi, 1991); narrow, “light”, and other
marker rings
• Skeleton plot using 2mm graph paper (LTRR
has a great tutorial under “for educators”)
• Measuring rings using scanned images
(grayscale) and free image analysis software
(ImageJ…scan at 1600 dpi or better if possible)
• More complicated analysis tools: statistical
software, isotopes, etc…see LDEO software
Selected information and data
http://web.utk.edu/~grissino/ The science of tree rings—
this is a terrific gateway site developed by Henri Grissino Mayer
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/treering.html NOAA treering database…data in several formats
Tree-ring labs: LDEO, LTRR, HTRR, CCTRR, BTRRL at PSU
Archives of the tree-ring discussion forum
Bibliography of dendrochronology
NOAA global tree-ring database
Example skeleton plots on
2mm graph paper.
Epson expression 1680, ~ $800
Epson 10000XL, ~ $3,000
Hardware resolution: 1600 x
3200 dpi
Scan area (max) 8.5" x 11.7"
(216mm x 297mm)
Hardware resolution: 2400 x 4800
Scan area (max) 12.2" x 17.2"
Scanning software: Mac Image Capture or Vuescan (PC, but runs on a
Using ImageJ to measure rings
Settings for preservation of subfossil trees
Subsidence or inundation drowning [no ls]
Fault-dammed lake
Landslide-dammed lake
Lava-dammed lake
Burial in lahar-, debris flow-,
or flood-aggraded valleys
Burial in landslide deposit, till, or dunes
Timberline snags (subaerial preservation)
Spider Lake, SE Olympic
Mountains – during 1992
drought; trees died ~ 1100 yr BP
Graphic by Pat
WA: Locations of subfossil
trees (dots) with respect
to faults (lavender),
volcanic hazard zones
(brown), and landslides
SW WA Cascade Range landslides…student
research focused on minimum age of Glacier Lake
St. Helens
MP 126
MP 126 Glacier
landslide Lake
Subfossil trees near Puget Lowland…student research
focused on comparing tree rings w/ similar 14C dates
Pount Wilson
~2,300 yr B.P.
~2,300 yr B.P.
sites in and near
Puget Lowland
Above: Church
Mtn rockslide
~2,300 yr B.P.
Pount Wilson ~2,300 yr
B.P. stump intertidal zone
Subfossil trees
~2300 yr B.P.
Intertidal area of Woodland Creek at
Henderson Inlet near Olympia
An increment borer is used by Colleen to take a core sample of the
tree. At Glacier Lake we wanted to assess the age of the oldest
trees atop the landslide to help estimate a minimum age.
Christina and Colleen preparing to
extract a core from an increment
Gluing the core down.
Sanding the core—finishing with 2000-grit sandpaper for a fine polish.
Visual examination of the rings with a stereo microscope
Centralia College students at the poster
session of the Northwest Scientific
Association Annual Meeting, Portland
State Univ., March 2013
Christina Williams (top
center) discusses the
poster with Megan
Walsh and Serrafina
Ferri of Central WA
Right: Colleen Suter
talks with Katie Glew,
2011–2013 President
of the Northwest
Scientific Assoc. at her
2nd Annual South Sound Undergraduate Geoscience
Research Conference, Univ. of Puget Sound, April 19, 2013
Colleen discusses her
poster with Kena FoxDobbs of UPS while
Michelle Kearns looks
Fame and fortune—Being interviewed
for the Alumni Newsletter by Ed Riley
New project: Buried forests of
the Duwamish and Puyallup
River valleys
Above: 1995 Emerald Downs
racetrack excavation at Auburn.
-subfossil trees buried by andesitic
sand. Stump dated at 1,080 yr B.P.
Below: andesitic sand
at Port of Seattle
Eruption, earthquake(s), buried trees, and the mythology
of the Puget Lowland ~1100 yr B.P.—Can tree-rings shed
light on the nature and timing of geologic events and
place-specific stories? Do buried trees at Fife correlate
with those at Auburn?
How the whales
reached the sea
—IN, Arthur C.
Ballard, the
Mythology of
Southern Puget
Right, Michelle Kearns
evaluates rings of
subfossil trees from
Fife and Auburn,
~1,100 yr B.P. in age.
Tree rings, the plus and minus side
• Plus: students get it; wide applications, data
attainable online or locally, relevant to
ongoing Earth changes of concern
• Minus: some tools (e.g. borers) costly and
delicate; work can be time consuming and
labor intensive
M.J. Murdock Partners in Science
Partnering in research with high school Science Teachers,
my research partners are listed below
• 2002: Russ Weaver, Heritage High School: Use of
dendrochronology to date and better understand the
Bonneville landslide, Columbia River Gorge, Washington
• 2006: Jo Martens, Centralia HS: Use of Radiocarbon Dating
and Dendrochronology to Investigate a Submerged Forest in
Eld Inlet, Washington
• 2011: Chris Hedeen, Oregon City HS: Assessing the age of the
ghost forest: evidence for the 1781 Mount Hood eruption in
the White River basin
Right: looking west at the
ghost forest along the upper
east rim of the White River
canyon from Timberline
Lodge parking area;
Below: USGS hazards map
Partners in Science Project: evaluating the ghost
forest of Whitebark Pines at Mount Hood volcano
Pringle, Patrick T.; Williams, Christina A., 2013, What geologic event(s)
killed the circa 2,300 yr B.P. submerged or buried subfossil trees at
multiple sites in and near the Puget Lowland, Washington USA?
[abstract]: Northwest Scientific Association, Annual Meeting, 84th, 69–
70. [Accessed May 21, 2013 at
http://www.northwestscience.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1578186 ; poster
accessed at
Suter, Colleen; Pringle, Patrick Patrick T.; Schuster, Robert L., 2013, New
environmental and radiocarbon evidence for the ages of two
Holocene landslide-dammed lakes in the southern Washington
Cascade Range, USA [abstract]: Northwest Scientific Association,
Annual Meeting, 84th, p. 78–79. [Accessed May 21, 2013 at
http://www.northwestscience.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1578186 ; poster
at http://www.centralia.edu/academics/earthscience/pubs/suter_pringle_glacierlak
e_nwsa_2013.pdf ]
Riding the trolley in
Portland at the NWSA
meeting 2013

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