North American Glacial Varve Web Site Goals
This site is intended to serve both an educational and research role in promoting the study of glacial varves in North America. Although in existence for close to a century, glacial varve chronologies in North America have been greatly underutilized as late glacial chronologic and paleoenvironmental tools. They have also been shrouded in misconceptions that have greatly limited their use.
The scope of the web site's coverage is glacial varve chronology in North America, which is heavily dominated by varve studies in New England. Initially the site will focus on the New England Varve Chronology and the northeastern U.S. with a few exceptions but should eventually grow to cover more of the continent as the utility of glacial varves is recognized by a greater number of researchers.
The web site is intended to not only provide an introduction to the public from middle school age upward but should also serve as a introduction to more advanced academic study of glacial varves. The educational presentations on the web site will focus on several topics:
- How glacial varves are deposited and how their annual structure is formed.
- How glacial varve chronology works (creating varve records and varve correlation).
- The history of glacial varve chronology in North America.
- The relationship between glacial varve chronology and the timing of deglaciation.
Several educational activities will be posted in which middle school or younger students, as well as college students, may discover the nuts and bolts of varve deposition and varve chronology. These activities will include materials that can be downloaded for classroom projects and demonstrations.
In order to make the field of glacial varve chronology accessible to a broader spectrum of scientists the web site will form a repository for techniques, data, and advanced level introductions to several topics related to the interpretation of glacial varves.
Techniques that will be presented are:
- Field techniques used for the collection of varve records and samples.
- The treatment of varve samples (cores) in the lab to maximize their information and to prepare samples for the creation of high resolution digital archives that will be available well into the future.
- Computer assisted measurement and analysis of varve sequences with downloadable software.
Data that will be accessible at the site will hopefully grow over time as more researchers use varves and data sets grow. Several sets of data will be available including:
- Interactive retrieval and download capability of existing varve records/chronologies in North America for various regions. Initially there will be a heavy emphasis on New England.
- Interactive retrieval and download capability of outcrop varve records and high resolution images of the stratigraphy.
- 14C ages from varve sequences in North America that provide the foundation for calibration.
Advanced level topics in glacial varve chronology will be presented that are the focus of current research and more advanced uses of varves to study glacial and paleoclimate chronology as well as glacial and climate dynamics. Among the advanced topics presented will be:
- Advanced topics in varve deposition such as the role of ice recession, basin geometry, and glacial lake development over time.
- A varve image library showing the anatomy of glacial varves.
- Varve calibration vs. 14C and cosmogenic-nuclide ages.
- Varves and paleomagnetic stratigraphy.
- Glacial to non-glacial varve transitions and the use of these records to study paleoclimate change.
- Fossils in glacial varves. A special section will be an in depth analysis of trace fossils.
- A glacial varve bibliography.