UAF students take a deeper look at the Bering Land Bridge

Published: Aug. 5, 2023 at 11:49 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is heading to the Bering Sea.

A research team, consisting of several UAF geoscience students and professors, will reveal what the environment was like when animals and people were crossing the Bering Land Bridge that existed thousands of years ago. They will spend their time on the research vessel, Sikuliaq, for the remainder of the month.

Sarah Fowell, UAF professor of geology, explains “We are the first expedition that’s going to be collecting cores from the Bering Sea shelf. For the purpose coring all the way through the marine section from about 11,000 years and into sediment that was deposited on the Bering Land Bridge when it was above sea level during the last Ice Age,”

The sediment from the cores will allow the researchers to understand what the climate was like and give clues to when the land bridge flooded. Beth Caissie, a physical scientist at the Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center will be studying other elements of the land bridge.

“I’m interested in how productive those waters are and so we’re going to be looking at algae to try to figure out what that productivity was like. I’m also interested in sea ice. So right now, we know sea ice comes and goes… We’re going to be looking at what that looked like as the glacier was melting and sea levels were rising and things were warming up,” said, Caissie.

In addition, to being the first to examine marine sediments and studying the cores, this experience will be like no other as the students will be gaining new research experience. Xochitl Muñoz, a UAF undergraduate student shares, “I’m very excited to see the results as they start coming in and finding out new information because there are a lot of unanswered questions. It’s just exciting for me to be one of the first people to figure it out and know, “oh, this is what actually happened.”

Soon the community will also know what occurred at the time of the Last Ice Age at the Bering Land Bridge.

If you’re interested in following this research expedition, please visit their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page to learn more.