Digital Varves

What is “The Jumbo Varve Project”?

The Jumbo Varve Project, or The Tufts Varve Project, is designed to improve key aspects of the New England Varve Chronology (NEVC). Funding for the project is from the National Science Foundation (Directorate for Geosciences, Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology Program Award no. EAR-0639830) with Jack Ridge as the Principal Investigator. If successful, the project will improve the NEVC so that it can be used to better solve stratigraphic problems related to deglaciation and paleoenvironmental changes that occurred at the close of the last glaciation. It hopefully will promote the use of glacial varve chronology in North America by creating the educational web site you are viewing and by disseminating data derived from research within New England and elsewhere in North America.

Some past Tufts Jumbos at the River Road outcrop.

The name for the project (“The Jumbo Varve Project”) derives from the fact that NSF funding for the project supports work by faculty and students in the Geology Dept. at Tufts University. The Tufts University mascot is Jumbo, the circus elephant made famous by Phineas.T. Barnum, one of the original benefactors of the university. For over a century Jumbo’s stuffed body was on display on the Tufts campus in Barnum Hall, which was a natural history museum in addition to housing the Tufts Geology Department. Unfortunately, a fire in Barnum Hall in 1975 destroyed Jumbo as well as much of the museum collection. For more information see this article.

The title of the funded project and its proposal that initiated this web site is:

“Consolidation and Calibration of the New England Varve Chronology (NEVC): An Annual Continental Record of Ice Dynamics and Terrestrial Change, 18-11.5 kyr BP”.

To see the original grant proposal download the PDF document here: JumboVarveProject.pdf (~3 MB )

The project started in April 2007 and will run until April 2010. The associated web site will be maintained long after the project is complete. Others doing work in glacial varve chronology are encouraged to make contributions to the site. If you are interested please see our contact information in the “About” section of this web site.