Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Geology and Environmental Science


Kristen St. John

Steve J. Baedke

R. Mark Leckie

Stephen A. Leslie


In May of 2016, the STEMSEAS Educational Transit cruise OC1605-tranA collected the STEMSEAS Site 1 core from the Tanner Basin in the California Borderland. This research serves as the first formal survey of the foraminifera preserved within that core. The purpose of this research is to use foraminifera preserved within that core to understand the recent depositional and paleoenvironmental conditions at Site 1, and to place that information into a regional paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic context. In pursuing this purpose, this research aims to answer three questions: 1) Can biostratigraphic markers in the foraminiferal assemblages in STEMSEAS Site 1 core be used to test the hypothesis that a shift in elemental ratio concentrations at 120 cmbsf marks the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary? 2) Is there evidence of turbidity flow deposition at STEMSEAS Site 1? 3) Can the foraminiferal assemblages within STEMSEAS Site 1 core be used to study paleoenvironmental changes in the California Borderland through time? Thirty-four samples of the >63 mm size sediment fraction from the core were analyzed throughout this study, and the data from those samples was compared with lithologic and elemental data collected by the STEMSEAS cruise shipboard party and with regional data. Additionally, radiocarbon dates were obtained to develop an age model for the core, which allowed cored data to be interpreted in a temporal context. In answering the proposed questions, the study found that: 1) The shift in elemental data at 120 cmbsf occurs very close to (~1 kyr following) the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary, and the Pleistocene/Holocene transition represents a period of low dissolved oxygen supply within the Tanner Basin and low surface productivity. 2) A small percentage of benthic foraminifera present at Site 1 were displaced to Site 1 from a shallower depth, suggesting that turbidity flows did impact sedimentation at this location, but were not the dominant sediment transport process. 3) The core records a paleoenvironmental history of semi-regular millennial scale variation in sea surface temperature, upwelling strength, and nutrient influx that may be driven by oscillating and increasing frequency of El Niño/Southern Oscillation events.



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