Indiana University Bloomington

Research Focus:
a sampling of projects in the Geological Sciences Department

Research Focus: Arndt Schimmelmann

Field Work: Organic Matter from the Pacific Ocean off Southern California

The New Horizon was one of two ships used to carry IU Geological Sciences researchers into the Pacific.

Arndt Schimmelmann's research in paleoclimatology has primarily utilized the annually laminated sediment record of the Santa Barbara Basin where sedimentological and geochemical features can be interpreted in the context of climate change. In 2006 Schimmelmann and colleagues published an overview and update on the chronostratigraphy of the past ca. 6000 years of sedimentation, together with a detailed X-radiographic record. View this article.

Laminated sediment in core samples from the Santa Barbara Basin.

Graduate students working with Arndt Schimmelmann and Juergen Schieber of the IU Department of Geological Sciences take sediment samples using Soutar box cores, gravity cores, and material from multicorers. In all cases, the sediment is collected in clear plexiglass tubes. These tubes contain core segments and are capped at both ends. The layers appear as dark/light couplets. Each couplet represents one year of sediment deposition. You can compare this with pages in a history book, or with successive tree rings. The topmost sediment layers are the youngest. You can count backwards downcore and thus date each layer. We measure geochemical properties of each layer and reconstruct aspects of the ocean climate in the past.

A backward view of the Sproul’s fantail, with an array of Niskin bottles for water sampling, and the view of San Diego harbor as the team leaves.

In addition to core samples the group sampled water from various depths and filtered it to collect particles that float in the water column. This research was funded by the NSF to investigate the chemical nature and the origin of this “particulate organic matter”.



Graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Geological Sciences have the opportunity to participate in significant field work and to attend symposia and conferences. At Indiana you don't just read about Geology, you can be involved in moving the science forward with your own contributions.


A submersible pump is moved into position. It will be used to take water samples at a variety of depths.