Jessica collects a speleothem from  a California cave.

Jessica collects a speleothem from  a California cave.

I am interested in reconstructing the response of terrestrial hydroclimates to past climate change. To do this, I develop records of isotopic and geochemical variability in terrestrial materials such as cave mineral deposits - or speleothems. Speleothems capture the response of soil and groundwater to environmental changes on the surface such as changes in rainfall amount and source, temperature, and vegetation. I am also interested in understanding how modern cave systems respond to seasonal and interannual environmental changes with an eye toward using this understanding to provide an interpretative framework for calibrating paleoclimate records from cave deposits. Presently, I have active research projects in California, Tennessee, and India.

Petra Byl (High School research intern) and Chris Myers (M.S. 2014) sample soil water above a cave in TN.

Petra Byl (High School research intern) and Chris Myers (M.S. 2014) sample soil water above a cave in TN.

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Sampling soil gas from above a cave in Tennessee.

Sampling soil gas from above a cave in Tennessee.

We are working in a cave in Tennessee to understand how trace elements and carbon isotope signatures in water are transformed as they move from the soil through the epikarst and into the cave so that we might better understand these potential paleoclimate proxies.

 

We use a CM-2 micromilling system to sample stalagmites at high (~ 10's of microns) resolution for stable isotope analysis

Jessica in a grave-like soil pit in Fish Lake Valley, NV during her work as a postdoc at Stanford.

Jessica in a grave-like soil pit in Fish Lake Valley, NV during her work as a postdoc at Stanford.

We use geochemical and isotopic information from speleothems and soils to understand how water availability has changed in the western United States. We also integrate this proxy data with climate models to understand the drivers of hydrologic change in the past.