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Mapping the Ancient Bald Cypress Forest off the Alabama Coast

A multidisciplinary group including Departments of Geography and Anthropology, Geology and Geophysics, the School of the Coast and Environment, and the Coastal studies institute at LSU, and University of Southern Mississippi investigated a well-preserved ancient bald cypress forest buried and partially exposed in the in the northern Gulf of Mexico in August 2015. The team included paleoclimatologist Dr. Kristine DeLong, marine geologist, Dr. Sam Bentley, geophysicist Dr. Kevin Xu, Geography and Anthropology Graduate Student Junghyung “Johnny” Ryu, Oceanography and geophysics graduate student Jeffery Obelcz, Geology undergraduate students Brianna Crenshaw and Rodney Stieffel, and captain and crew of the R/V Coastal Profiler. The team conducted survey of seafloor using chirp subbottom profiler, sidescan sonar, and swath bathymetry, and collected over 17 meters of sediment cores using vibracoring system. The real-time evaluation of geophysical data in the field provided site bathymetry for sediment coring. This project will yield valuable information on northern Gulf of Mexico coastal geomorphology during glacial-interglacial seas level fluctuations, sediment preservation of macro- and micro botanicals, glacial age coastal environments, and their response to climate shifts. This research is sponsored by the Wallace Foundation and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.