Meet the Scientist
I’m Gabi Serrato Marks (@gserratomarks on Instagram and Twitter; gabrielaserratomarks.com), and I study caves. I am a PhD candidate in marine geology at MIT.
If you want to know whether it’s going to rain 5 days from today, you can check an app or website. But how do you figure out how much it rained 50 years ago, or 2,000 years ago, and why would you bother? To better understand future climate change, we need to know about climate changes that occurred in the past, including rainfall. Cave rocks like this are one source of that paleoclimate data!
Each layer represents about one year of growth. Stalagmites get taller over time, adding a new layer each year just like trees or corals.
Paleoclimate researchers usually use chemical ratios in each layer as a proxy for rainfall when that layer formed.
For my PhD thesis, I will be looking at a different type of data: the layer thickness, color, and shape. I’m testing whether we can use the layer characteristics as a new proxy for rainfall.
Feel free to ask me any questions by reaching out on any of the links above.
- website for my current research project: https://spark.adobe.com/page/jwDlieHKMf0iy/
- stalagmite data from NOAA: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/paleoclimatology-data/datasets/speleothem