Title

Analysis of Cascadian Forest Resilience Following Volcanic Ash Fall

Presenter Information

Karen Mockel
Megan Walsh

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

When Mt. Saint Helens exploded in 1980, its lateral blast devastated a large tract of forest north of the mountain, an area that is still recovering more than 30 years later. While scientists continue to study the regeneration of this forest, little research has been done concerning the distant effects of explosive volcanic eruptions on forests in the Cascades. The high-elevation forests of Mt. Rainier National Park, which received fallout from both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens, are an ideal location to analyze the impacts of, and recovery from, volcanic ash fall. Bench Lake, which is within the park, was chosen for this study because of its location within a high-altitude subalpine fir forest. In the summer of 2012, a 2.95-meter-deep lake sediment core was collected from this site in order to investigate the impacts of volcanic ash fall. To do this, macroscopic charcoal and pollen analysis are being used to reconstruct the fire and vegetation history of the site within the last 10,000 years. Preliminary charcoal counts indicate that fire activity has varied considerably throughout the late Holocene. The ongoing Bench Lake charcoal analysis has shown that fires in this area are more frequent than originally expected. The pollen analysis, which will be conducted in the coming year, should shed more light on the forest response to major volcanic eruptions.

Poster Number

22

Faculty Mentor(s)

Megan Walsh

Additional Mentoring Department

Geography

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May 16th, 2:15 PM May 16th, 4:44 PM

Analysis of Cascadian Forest Resilience Following Volcanic Ash Fall

SURC Ballroom C/D

When Mt. Saint Helens exploded in 1980, its lateral blast devastated a large tract of forest north of the mountain, an area that is still recovering more than 30 years later. While scientists continue to study the regeneration of this forest, little research has been done concerning the distant effects of explosive volcanic eruptions on forests in the Cascades. The high-elevation forests of Mt. Rainier National Park, which received fallout from both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens, are an ideal location to analyze the impacts of, and recovery from, volcanic ash fall. Bench Lake, which is within the park, was chosen for this study because of its location within a high-altitude subalpine fir forest. In the summer of 2012, a 2.95-meter-deep lake sediment core was collected from this site in order to investigate the impacts of volcanic ash fall. To do this, macroscopic charcoal and pollen analysis are being used to reconstruct the fire and vegetation history of the site within the last 10,000 years. Preliminary charcoal counts indicate that fire activity has varied considerably throughout the late Holocene. The ongoing Bench Lake charcoal analysis has shown that fires in this area are more frequent than originally expected. The pollen analysis, which will be conducted in the coming year, should shed more light on the forest response to major volcanic eruptions.