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2nd Place, 2012

Into the Deep

Meg Corcoran, Earth and Environmental Sciences

In May of 2011 a multidisciplinary team of UIC students and professors from three departments embarked on an 8-day trip on the U.S. EPA research vessel RV Lake Guardian to collect lake bottom sediment samples from 28 locations in Lake Superior. This photo, taken at sunset on May 28th, 2011, shows team leaders Dr. An Li, from the department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health (left) and Dr. Karl Rockne from the department of Civil and Materials Engineering (right) preparing to send an MC-400 Spyder Corer down to collect sediment from the deepest point in Lake Superior. After a 30 minute trip down the MC-400 reached the bottom at a depth of 398 meters, a few meters shy of the maximum lake depth.

The collected samples are being analyzed for over 100 contaminants and are being dated in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences using gamma emissions from 210Pb and 137Cs radioisotopes to determine the timeline of contaminant deposition. The project will be able to answer spatial and temporal questions about contaminants: where are they, when did they start to appear, and are they still being deposited in Lake Superior.