400 Year Old Flood Mystery / by David Franz

We had a great time last night with CSUB Geology Professor Rob Negrini.  He talked about the work that he and his students have done to investigate a 400 year old mystery.  

The mystery began when Geologists took cores from the ocean floor off of the Santa Barbara coast and found a thick layer of soil with evidence of land plant and animal life. This indicates a massive flood event that ripped up trees, rocks, and a whole lot of dirt and carried them all into the ocean. The placement of that layer in the core suggested that the flood happened around 1605. The question for Negrini and his students was whether something similar happened in the Central Valley.  

It turns out to be a quite difficult question to answer.  For one thing, most of the area around lakes has been farmed, stirring the dirt into geologic gibberish.  For another, the remains of shelled lake creatures that tend to last through the centuries and be available to analyze with carbon dating are difficult to interpret.  The shells are often made from the remains of other living things.  So the shell of a single animal might contain parts that vary in age by centuries.  I won't give away the ending, but Negrini's team has some promising leads, mostly involving charcoal.  

It was a stimulating evening and along the way, we caught a glimpse of the cutting edge work that is going on CSUB.  The University has been bringing in impressive research talent and funding, particularly around the study of energy.  CSUB is clearly on the rise and we are pleased to be their partners for this lecture series.  We will do it all again next month.  Hope to see you there.