what i discovered today

research at the phd level

Tuesday 28 April, 2009 April 28, 2009

Filed under: day — illustratedcatalogueofmagic @ 5:31 pm
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Today was a remarkably productive day, at least it felt that way, but in retrospect I did not finish many of the things that I wanted to.

I did not get a chance to work on the article for ASAAH, which I want done by the end of next week, nor did I get my requisite hour with A&Z.

However, I did do a lot of reading, and it was interesting.  I also signed on to proofread this Moravian thing for Katia.

  • Freshwater reservoir effect — learned a bit more about this, though there seems to be very little done with volcanic activity — though I suspect that this New Zealand paper I am going to read tomorrow will help me out.  What I read today focused on other things that could cause the FRE — “hard water” effects, breakdown of animals, trapping of water under ice, etc.
  • Greenlandic tephras — read a paper about Holocene tephras in marine records, which led to me corresponding with someone at INSTAAR about the size of the tephras.  The paper noted that the tephras had been carried by melting glaciers and deposited some time after their original fall.  This was pretty interesting to me as of course I am interested in tephra deposition as it relates to snowfall/perennial ice and snow/melting glaciation.
  • Norse/Native American interaction — a long paper, but definitely worth it, actually quite well written (Shock!) and very engaging.  It reviewed literally every thing that could indicate contact between these two groups.  Made the point that — and I think McGovern made it first — when Norse met Native American, it was not a clash of technology vs primitive or anything similar, Norse had metals but beyond that were just as primitive as Native Americans.  Was very interested to learn about the existence of the Maine coin that is a Norse coin found in Maine… that is pretty cool.

Monday 27 April, 2009

Filed under: day — illustratedcatalogueofmagic @ 9:58 am

Today was devoted to learning about the freshwater reservoir effect and how it interacts with volcanics, specifically in groundwater.  My reason for learning about this was because I am interested in testing for the FRE in irrigation channels in Greenland and Iceland.

To that end, I started my research with “Reservoirs and radiocarbon”, an article by Ascough et al. from 2007 that describes dating strategies at Myvatnssveit.  Lots of good sources came out of this article, among other things, and Ascough as ever talks me through reservoir effects with really useful, clear language.  The most interesting things to be gleaned from the article, at least for my purposes, are:

  • FRE is wildly unpredictable and it is better to just date things that have only terrestrial food sources
  • previous studies where FRE was talked about did not see the mixing of resources — terr., marine, and freshwater — that are mixed within isotopic remains.
  • Interesting, and a way of bringing the arch back into the sci: how what resources people consume, and what survival strategies they develop, can affect this.
  • Everything must be done locally for best results.  Using global standards does not really tell the whole picture because there is so much variability of env. conditions.  This is a common but important theme.
  • Am still wondering why some CO2 is low in 14C?  This is probably a basic chemistry thing that I have forgotten.

The article also affirmed my thoughts on how measurement of geothermally active freshwater sources is necessary.

I spent the rest of the day searching on the topic of the freshwater reservoir effect.  There is not a lot out there on this, especially not with an archaeological angle.

Today I also accepted entry into the Vatnsfjordur field school for this summer and learned that all but travel is paid for by the funding for the project, about which I am extremely excited.