Undergraduate Research Experience in Ocean, Marine, and Polar Science 2010 [website]
"Survery of Post LGM Environment: Unusual Soil Constituents in Rockyhock Bay Stratigraphy"
Mentor: Dr. M. LeCompte


Throughout North America’s eastern coastal plain are found a variety of features attributed to ice age climate. These include many elliptical, shallow depressions called collectively Carolina Bays, hypothesized to have been formed by the strong, sustained winds and arid, cold climate characteristic of glacial epochs (Raisz, 1934, Johnson, 1942 and Kaczorowski, 1977). This view eclipsed the 1933 proposition by Melton and Schriever, and expanded by Prouty (1934, 1953), that extraterrestrial debris produced by an aerial meteorite or comet explosion in the vicinity of the Great Lakes during the late Pleistocene formed the bays. Recent discovery that a number of the bays were found to contain materiel associated with extraterrestrial impacts including carbon and magnetic spherules, glass-like carbon, charcoal and nanodiamonds reinvigorated the debate over the bay’s origins (Firestone, et. al. 2007).

To determine whether the bays were receptacles for impact materiel injected into the environment, soil samples were previously taken from Rockyhock Bay, located approximately 45 km from the Elizabeth City State University campus. Core samples were extracted near the rim of the bay and from an excavation near the bay’s center. Soil samples from Rockyhock Bay were examined to determine the presence of carbon-associated markers and to measure the quantity of magnetic grains and grain-size distribution. Magnetic spherules were sought from among the smaller size portions of the magnetic grains and bulk density determined. Magnetic spherules were examined in detail using a scanning electron microscope and geochemically analyzed using energy dispersive spectroscopy. The results were compared with earlier similar published results for other age-appropriate features found in North America that are hypothesized to be due to a Pleistocene-end extraterrestrial impact.

NSF-Watershed Watch 2009 [website]
"Human Impacts on the Water Quality of the Pasquotank"
Mentor: Professor Jeff Schloss, University of New Hampshire


Most people don't know that they could be contributing to adverse water quality changes right in their own backyards. How? Well because, we all live in watersheds, an area that drains to a common waterway. In order to determine how development, farmlands and water treatment plants affect water quality, we visited various locations near agriculture sites, urban development and waste treatment facilities along the Pasquotank River, the Washington Ditch, and the Great Dismal Swap in Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina. At each location we measured of pH levels, temperature, water clarity, apparent /true color, specific conductivity, turbidity, zooplankton abundance, and the amount of chlorophyll a. We found that as we moved down river into increasing agriculture and development the water clarity decreased and conductivity increased. When we moved towards the city, “away from the swamp headwaters” dissolved color decreased and the pH increased. The lowest clarity was found in downtown Elizabeth City; we also noted that the highest chlorophyll readings were located at the sewage treatment plant. Additional water quality results supported our initial hypothesis that the quality of the water decreased with the extent of land use.