Possible Research Topics in the Nature Preserve

On this page, possible undergraduate research topics may be listed.

Submitted By Arjan Reesink Geology
You will need to find the right sponsor/advisor. 

  1. Origin of the Rock Species- Alien Rocks
    The bedrock under Fuller Hollow creek consists of shale (‘stone-clay’) and some sandstone. However, we find crystalline rocks in Fuller hollow creek! Where do they come from?

    Method:     Collect crystalline rocks from the creek, cut them open, study them, and pinpoint their origin.

    Some rocks we find here have their source in Canada, some are from the Adirondacks… Which rocks are indigenous (from around here) or glacial erratics (alien rocks) put here by action of rivers and glaciers? Most rocks have unique characteristics that allow us to pinpoint their origin. The origin of rocks gives insight into their transport by major agents such as rivers and/or the ice cap/glaciers that covered North America during the Ice Ages. The amount and type of alien rocks together with geomorphology gives very interesting clues as towards the development of the landscape we live in.

  2. Ground Penetrating Radar
    Radar allows us top look inside solid objects, such as the ground, as if we were looking into glass…

    Method:     Generation of a soil profile by measuring radar reflections in the ground… It is much like digging a trench without digging a trench, a non destructive method!

    Ground Penetrating Radar works quite well on the fluvial (river) deposits around here. Potential research questions would include (1) erosion and incision of Fuller Hollow Creek since straightening, (2) changes in stream pattern since straightening, (3) changes in morphometrics (e.g. stream width-depth ratio). All of these questions would eventually lead to a prediction of the ‘steady state’ of the stream and future hazards of Fuller Hollow Creek.

  3. Soil creep on slopes
    Slow, down-slope movement of soil on slopes, known as creep, pushes the trees over. Trees react by growing faster on one side, which straightens them once again. The resulting bend of the bottom of the tree trunk can be used as a measure for soil creep!

    Method:    Step one: gather data on tree type, trunk bend angle, trunk diameter, soil slope angle, forest type, soil type... etc. Step two: simple correlations, but the statistics can get as advanced as you want them to be…

    How creepy are the soils the Nature Preserve? This research will result in a re-usable dataset for earth/environmental science or statistics classes.

  4. Snow thickness and refreezing (for next winter)
    Method:    Measure snow (weight) and water equivalent (% weight) and use snow pack as proxy for precipitation.

    This investigation is related to snow accumulation and mass balance research on glaciers but also gives insight into many hydrological issues in the Nature Preserve.

  5. DEM of Choconut Creek & hydrograph
    Method:    Repetitively make DEMs of Choconut Creek and get a Hydrograph or proxy for discharge. Relate geomorphological changes to discharge events.

    This investigation focuses on an actual (minor) Natural Hazard that costs the town of Vestal much money each year. The stream erodes the bank of the stream, which holds the road and some houses… the riprap seems to be fantastically ineffective at this location. Each big storm there is a visible change.

  6. Canopy structure and leaf area index
    Method:     (1) Climb trees and use the laser to get statistics on leaf cover over height, (2) make photographs of the sky and trees, calculate % sky and % leaf/branches, (3) use satellite images to calculate leaf area index (super-simple!).

    This investigation allows for a detailed insight into the type, productivity and state of the forest as well as many effects on the watershed hydrology.
  7. Storm Drainage: Nature Preserve vs. Campus
    Method:    Measuring water pressure and depth at four stations around campus during during rain events and non-rain events.

    Continue the work of Dave Katz comparing the storm out flow from the Nature Preserve versus the parking lots and buildings of campus.

Last Updated: 10/27/16