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Protecting California’s Coast

Geologists Spent Week on Research Vessel in Monterey Bay
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Geology student Kevin Hunter and faculty mentor Joe Carlin spent five days on a research vessel in Monterey Bay this summer as part of a collaborative project to collect sediment from the ocean’s seabed.

The focus of the research was to investigate how ocean “upwelling” — a process where water from the bottom of the ocean rises to the surface near the coast and drives highly productive marine ecosystems — has changed throughout the past 10,000 years along the central California coast, said Carlin, assistant professor of geological sciences.

Upwelling is critical for sustaining ecologically and economically important fisheries, as well as overall ocean productivity, Carlin explained.

“The sediment preserves the record of these changes through time, and by better understanding how it has changed in the past as the earth transitioned from a glacial climate to a warmer one, we may improve our predictions of future changes due to the current climate change,” Carlin added.

For Hunter, a junior, the firsthand experience of participating in coring — the gathering sediments from the ocean floor — and collecting samples solidified his decision to pursue a career in the field.

“Experiencing data collection for myself has opened my eyes on what my future career as a geologist, specifically focusing on sediments, has in store,” he said. “Dr. Carlin went above and beyond to make this research trip worthwhile, fun and educational. He made sure that all the undergraduates on board were completely involved in every step of the coring process.”

Sacramento State faculty members and undergraduates, along with scientists from the United States Geological Survey, collaborated on the late August project, funded by the California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology. The researchers will develop preliminary data in efforts to seek further funding to expand the project for the entire California coast.