IC students conduct “extreme science” project on Rocky Mountains

By Ryne Turke on April 30, 2016 at 1:02pm

A handful of students and staff from Illinois College traveled to the Colorado Rocky Mountains over spring break to conduct some “extreme science” experiments.

Illinois College Professor of Environmental Studies Jason Price was joined on the trip by juniors Kyle Cronister and Logan Schippert, sophomore Brady Burden and Associate Professor of Economics T.J. Devine.

Price says the group accepted the challenge of collecting sediment from the bottom of The Loch Vale Watershed at Colorado State University, located 10,200 feet above sea level.

Price says this wasn’t an easy task.

“The easiest way to do it is to auger through the ice and collect sediment. We have to haul the equipment over a thousand feet. It is very steep and very hard work. We haul all the equipment on sleds and after we collect the sediment we have to take it back out.¬† We wanted to collect sediment to look at how certain elements have changed the last ten-thousand years the sediment has been accumulating in that lake,” says Price.

The group was in Colorado for five days, but only one day was spent getting sediment at The Loch. The rest of the time was spent getting acclimated to the environment and preparing food.

Price was proud of the work accomplished by his students.

“This is a rare experience, even for Geologists. These students got to see something that very few scientists get to see. They got to go battle that kind of altitude in the winter. Comments have only been positive since we have come back,” notes Price.

The group brought back a pair of sediment cores that were each approximately ten feet long. Over the next few years, the sediment will undergo tests such as grain size analyses, sediment chemistry and fossil identification.

Price hopes Illinois College will visit other lakes in Colorado in the future.