Daily Lake, paleoecology and a frozen Yellowstone River

On Tuesday I drove down to Daily Lake in the Paradise Valley to meet up with Cathy Whitlock and her graduate students. Cathy is a paleoecologist at Montana State University. She was also on my committee when I was in grad school in Oregon.

Southwest Montana was looking especially lovely on this sunny day.

Emigrant Peak.

Cathy and her students are used an auger to cut a hole in the ice then lowered the core through 22 feet of water to the lake bottom. Then they spent two days pulling out 11 meters of mud dating back about 16,000 years.

The findings from this lake will be important since it has some of the oldest sediments in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. They hope to find what vegetation first moved into Yellowstone after the last glaciation about 20,000 years ago.

Frozen Daily Lake.

The crew at work.

Pushing the corer into the lake bottom.

It takes a village.

Sliding the mud out.

The cores all wrapped up and ready to be taken back to the lab.

Daily Lake was frozen, of course, and had been polished by the wind that blows constantly across the lake. It was pretty cold during my visit even though it was close to 30 degrees out. The wind was bitter. The day before Cathy et al had been out all day in a blizzard, which sounded brutal.

Lake ice.

The drive home was as pretty as the way down (which makes sense since it was the same drive, only in reverse). I stopped at a fishing access-Mallards Rest–where the river was frozen.

The Absaroka range.

Bluebird box on a ranch fence.

Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone from Mallards Rest.

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