Amy Leventer - Geology Research in Antarctica Skip Navigation
Amy Leventer

Amy Leventer

Harold Orville Whitnall Professor of Geology
Geology , 421 Ho Science Center
p 315-228-7213

Research in Antarctica

Amy has led and participated in many cruises to Antarctica, commonly taking one or more Colgate students with her. One such cruise is described below.

CHAOS (Coring Holocene Antarctic Ocean Sediments)

From January 30 to March 29 2001, a team of 25 scientists, including Charlie McClennen and Amy Leventer (Chief Scientist), and Colgate undergraduate geology majors Natalie McLenaghan, Meredith Metcalf, and Caroline Olson, explored the East Antarctic Margin on cruise NBP0101 of the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer.

The Palmer is one of two icebreakers leased by the National Science Foundation and is dedicated almost entirely to conducting scientific research in the Southern Ocean. This 58-day cruise left from Hobart Tasmania and returned to port in Capetown South Africa, after transiting nearly a quarter of the way around the perimeter of Antarctica. Along the way, nearly a quarter mile of sediment core was recovered from seven deep shelf basins, with the goal of developing a record of climate and oceanographic change during the Quaternary.

Although the pace of recent climate change appears to be more rapid and of a larger scale in Antarctica compared to other areas of the globe, the factors forcing climate change in Antarctica are not well understood, due to the relative inaccessibility of the southernmost continent and the inhospitable working conditions. In order to address this scarcity of samples, particularly from the eastern side of the continent, we devoted our two months of ship time to acquiring as much data as possible.

Most of the sediment core material was recovered with the "Jumbo Piston Corer," a 90-foot long, 5" diameter, assembly of steel barrels, plastic core liner, and lead weights. Core sites were selected based on a combination of sub-bottom profiling and seafloor bathymetric mapping of well stratified and undisturbed acoustic reflectors. Back in the lab, our group has been responsible for two lines of investigation.

First, we develop paleoenvironmental reconstructions based on microscopic analysis of diatoms, single celled algae with a hard silica skeleton that serves as a permanent record of past climate. Second, we work with the sea floor maps to decipher the geologic processes that have shaped the seabed. Natalie, Caroline and Meredith worked with both Charlie and Amy as well as with our colleagues from other institutions, on senior projects based on the data collected during the cruise. Their contribution to the success of this cruise has been invaluable. Geology undergrads will continue the detailed analysis for the next few years as we extract the clearest indicators of Antarctic margin climate change from the core samples.

Related Student Research

(Student names in bold)

Alley, K., Leventer, A., and Dunbar, R., 2012, Laminated sediments from Iceberg Alley, East Antarctic Margin, SCAR Open Science Conference, XXXII, Portland, Oregon.

Crawford, A., Domack, E.W., and Leventer, A., 2012, Evidence for deposition within a pre-Holocene sub- glacial aquatic environment in the Greenpeace Trough, Antarctic Peninsula, SCAR Open Science Confer- ence, XXXII, Portland, Oregon.

Allegra Bianchiani '14 (Amy Leventer) Late Holocene Diatom Record of Ice Advance and Re- treat In West Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Margaret McMullen '13 (Amy Leventer) Holocene History of glacial and Sea Ice in the Larsen A embayment, Northeastern Antarctic Peninsula

Mikhaila Redovian '15 (Amy Leventer) Diatoms: Studying a Proxy Record of Antarctic Glacial and Sea Ice

Kara Vadman '12 (Summer Research 2012)
Diatom-based Paleoclimate Record from the Hugo Island Trough, Western Antarctic Peninsula

Crawford, A., Leventer, A., Domack, E.W. and Brachfeld, S., 2010, Marine sedimentary record of the Greenpeace Trough, Larsen A embayment, Antarctic Peninsula, EOS, Transactions of the American Geo- physical Union, Fall 2010 AGU Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Samuel Freccia  (Senior Research 2012)
Holocene Changes in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and Sea Ice Extent in the Antarctic Peninsula

Alexander Crawford  (Senior Research 2012) 
Marine Sedimentary Record of the Greenpeace Trough, Larsen A Embayment, Antarctic Peninsula

Karen Alley (Senior Research & Honor Project 2012)
Iceberg Alley, East Antarctic Margin: A site of Unusually High Primary Productivity

Karen Alley '12 (Summer Research 2011)
Analysis of an Ultra-high-resolution Ocean Sediment Core from Iceberg Alley, East Antarctica

Alexander Crawford '12 (Summer Research 2011)
Marine Sedimentary Record of the Greenpeace Trough, Larsen A Embayment, Antarctic Peninsula

Caitlin Cunningham '13 (Summer Research 2011)
Paleoclimate Record from Lallemand Fjord, Antarctic Peninsula

Samuel Freccia '12 (Summer Research 2011)
Kayack Bay, Antarctica: Holocene Oceanographic Record

Steffan Pierre '10 (Summer Research 2008)
Late summer 2006 phytoplankton from the Larsen B embayment, Antarctica

Rebecca Tortorello '10 (Summer Research 2008)
Modern distribution of diatoms along the West Antarctic continental margin

Buffen, A., Leventer, A.,Rubin, A., and Hutchins, T., 2007, Diatom assemblages in surface sediments of the northwestern Weddell Sea, Antarctic Peninsula, Marine Micropaleontology, 62, 7-30.

Perez, R., Brachfeld, S., Gorring, Domack, E., Leventer, A., Maritz, J., , and Passchier, S., 2007, Multi-proxy analyses of kasten cores and surface samples from the Joinville-d'Urville Trough, Northeastern Antarctic Peninsula: Results and correlation with the Western Antarctic Peninsula, EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, Spring 2007 AGU Meeting.

Caraline Higgins '09 (Summer Rearch 2007)
Oceanographic controls on the distribution of silicoflagellates in the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Molly Patterson '07 (Summer Rearch 2007)
Marine sedimentation records of early Holocene warmth

Nicole West '06 (Honors Research)
Diatom assemblages from the Larsen embayment and their use as paleo- environmental indiators

Molly Patterson '08 (Summer Rearch 2006)
Early holocene warmth in the Antarctic Peninsula: the marine sedimentary record

PEREZ, R B (Montclair State University), BRACHFELD, S (Montclair State University), GORRING, M (Montclair State University), LEVENTER, A , MARITZ, J '05, DOMACK, E (Hamilton College), ISHMAN, S (Southern Illinois University), and GILBERT, R (Queens University) "Geochemical and Rock-Magnetic Analyses of Kasten Cores from the Joinville-d'Urville Trough, Northeastern Antarctic Peninsula: Results and Correlation with the Western Antarctic Peninsula"

PATTERSON, M '07, LEVENTER, A , DRAKE, A (University of Colorado), DOMACK, E (Hamilton College), BUFFEN, A '05, ISHMAN, S (Southern Illinois University), SZYMCEK, P (Southern Illinois University), BRACHFELD, S (Montclair State University), and Backman, E (Hamilton College) "Mid Holocene Warmth in the Antarctic Peninsula: evidence from the Vega Drift"

Maureen Lynch '06 (Summer Rearch 2005)
Diatom Record of Changing Ice Shelf cover in the Larsen B Region of Antarctica

Molly Patterson, '07 (Summer Rearch 2005)
Diatom Evidence for Mid-Holocene Warmth in the Antarctic Peninsula

Nicole West '06 (Summer Rearch 2005)
Determination of the Holocene History of the Larsen B Ice Shelf (Antarctica)

Aron Buffen '05 (Summer Research 2004)
Diatom Assemblages of the Vega Drift

Michelle Cooper '06 (Summer Research 2004)
Thalassiosira Antarctica Records of Recent Sea Surface Temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula

James Maritz '05 (Summer Research 2004)
Larsen Ice Shelf Disintegration

Christina Viviano '06 (Summer Research 2004)
The Glacial/Interglacial Transition in Iceberg Alley, East Antarctica: A Case Study of an Extreme Productivity Event