The Science of Sand
A week ago, EcoLab P3 members François De Vleeschouwer, Pilar Durantez and Roman Teisserenc joined Jan Friesen and Adeline Loyau from UFZ on a field trip to Oman. The purpose of this expedition was to study the Dhofar Mountains (one of the 4 mountain ecosystems investigated in P3) using sediment cores and water samples as well as frog swabs. In P3, short sediment cores provide a long-term record (several hundreds of years) on the evolution of mountain ecosystems, its pressure in terms of pollutants and its adaptation to human impacts. While surrounded by local admirers and a public who was curious about our little boat, our sand tubes and our filtering equipment, as well as being pushed to our madness limit by black flies who seemed to appreciate our exotic flesh, our coring team managed to retrieve 9 sand cores in 3 sites.
The chronology will be quite a challenge in such dynamic and karstic environment, but EcoLab members hope to retrieve information on the sediment and water quality, especially on the pollution levels (trace metals, pesticides) of those various ponds and springs, which are often impacted by local tourism (boats and swimmers) and garbage dumping, therefore threatening the entire watershed and beyond.