Robin McLachlan - Happy to be stuck in the mud!
Just before this photo was taken, my team and I hopped off a small boat and waded through waist deep mud into a thick mangrove forest. Our goal was to take a core of this mud. We would later x-ray the core to image the structure of sediment layers and then date the sediment layers using lead geochronology.
As a graduate student at the University of Washington, I get to travel all around the world studying the life altering powers of…mud. Mud literally shapes our world, and one of the really cool things about mud is that it can move around and fairly rapidly change the landscape.
But, we don’t fully understand how mud will move around and reshape the land in response to things like sea-level rise, or dam installation, or other human interferences, things that are happening faster today than we have ever seen them before. People living on muddy coastlines don’t know what their landscape will look like just a couple years or decades from now.
This is where my research comes in. I have traveled to places like the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and to Brazilian tidal channels to study the past and present and to predict the future. I look deep into the ground to read the muddy sediment record like a story of how these muddy environments were shaped in the past. I also see how the rivers and oceans interact to move mud around the coastline today. And then I predict how these environments may look in the future.
Learn more about my research on my website.