Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tree Coring

It was unexpected, but it happened...success in the field was early and often.  After driving more than 2,000 feet uphill from Iquique to the Pampa del Tamarugal Basin, we decided to test out Justin's new tree-coring drill on a Tamarugo tree that is ~400 years old.  Justin and Liz will use this tree core to infer what climate was like in the Atacama Desert during the time in which the tree was alive.  By coring numerous trees that were alive over the last 10,000 years, Justin and Liz will be able to learn much about how the climate changed during Holocene time.

Justin using his new tree coring drill to extract a tree core from a felled Tamarugo tree.

Liz holding the tree core!


  1. Lincoln Kindergarteners are AMAZED at how old the trees are!!!
    Jackson would like an explanation of tree coring, please!
    We can't wait to see what you do next!!!

  2. Hi Mrs. Phelps, Jackson, & all the Lincoln Lions,

    When Justin and Liz core trees, they are actually drilling a hole in the tree and removing a long, skinny piece of the inside. This piece of the tree will come home with us, and Liz will count the rings of the tree to learn how long it was alive--a tree grows one new ring each year. Perhaps you all can look at a cut tree trunk and count the rings? After they know how long the tree was alive, they have to figure out when it was alive. To learn about this they have to use a super fancy method called "Carbon-14 Dating," which can tell us when something was alive...more or less. There are limits to this method, but it works well for trees. This is the basic method for learning how long a tree lived and when it was alive. Thanks for the great question :-)