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May 22, 2017 AT 3:00 am

Learning About Ancient Sedimentary Environments in Death Valley with Drones

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From MIT News:

Using innovative iPad-enabled drone technology, MIT Professor Kristin Bergmann conducted the fieldwork component of her 12.110B (Sedimentary Environments) course as a week-long spring break trip to explore the Carrara Formation in California’s Death Valley.

“When my former PhD advisor John Grotzinger was a faculty member at MIT, he worked on a project looking at the variability of a particular unit in the Carrara Formation at a place called Eagle Mountain,” says Bergmann, explaining her motivation for visiting the sites she chose. “At Eagle Mountain the unit captured a wide-range of depositional environments across a particularly short distance. I decided to take the class and drones back to the Carrara Formation to test how drones can help with mapping lateral changes in ancient environments. Among the questions we were asking were whether all of the carbonate units in the Carrara Formation are as variable laterally, and whether two other sites show as much lateral variability as Eagle Mountain.”

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