NSF/NERC project funded - MexiDrill: Developing a 350,000 year record of climate and environmental change in tropical North America

The MexiDrill project has recently been funded under the joint NSF/NERC scheme. This project draws upon long sediment cores collected on the southern edge of Mexico City in 2016, as part of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program. In 500 m of lake sediments, the cores preserve a long record of continental environmental change. They also contain a large number of tephra deposits from regional volcanoes, which are key to developing a robust core chronology. The £300,000 NERC side of the project will focus on developing this chronology and investigating the volcanic record. Dr Sebastian Watt and Dr Vicki Smith (Oxford) will be working on the volcanic history, with dating being led by colleagues at Queen’s University Belfast and SUERC.

The cores recovered in the project will provide one of the longest continuous climate records from tropical North America, allowing reconstruction of climate through past glacial cycles and investigation of rates of climate and environmental change and ecosystem responses. The volcanic eruption deposits in the core originate from a number of local volcanic sources, including large eruptions from volcanoes such as Popocatepetl, and some very regional-scale eruptions that may be used to correlate the core with other climatic archives. As well as providing important chronological constraints, the volcanic deposits will significantly extend knowledge of volcanic hazards in the region.