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Cinema Bayville

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Transcripts of Cinema Bayville movies

Past, Present, and Future

The Bay’s Muddy History

Narrator: Doctor Thomas M. Cronin is piecing together the Bay's evolution since its formation about eight to ten thousand years ago. He's with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia. To uncover this deep history, Tom and a team of researchers collect core samples of Bay mud, which is a rich repository of clues to the Bay's changing ecology.

Doctor Cronin: This is a core of sediment taken from the Bay in this direction just off the mouth of the Patuxent River. This is only one short core. Our longest sediment cores we've taken, go down into the mud about 65 feet. And they take us back eight to ten thousand years and record the entire history of the Bay.                      

Narrator: Tom's research is aimed at understanding human impacts on the Bay since early colonial times and also the impact of natural climate variability: droughts, floods, sea level rise.

Doctor Cronin: The importance of understanding sea level change in Chesapeake Bay has several aspects, but the most important is, of course, that in the last century, sea level has risen in this Bay by approximately a foot. And it's projected to rise at least another foot over the next century. And due to this sea level rise, we've lost significant amounts of coastal marshes and land area, and seen increased erosion in certain areas. In order to restore the Bay, and to manage it better, and to manage the lands in the watershed that drain into the Bay, it's important to understand how the Bay functions naturally.

Narrator: Weeks later, Jeff Halka processes the cores at the DNR Lab in Baltimore. X-rays reveal buried scientific treasure and ancient history. This core reveals an oyster bar centuries old and testament to historic abundance. But the shells abruptly stop.

Jeff: All of a sudden they're gone. And we start to accumulate lots more sediment. We can then look at these oysters and determine at what date that happened, see if there was a change in the environment that led to the demise of the oyster bar.              

Narrator: Another X-ray gives hints of a terrific ancient storm.

Jeff: And there's this clam here, he's a soft-shelled clam, and since the burrow is underneath him, that means that he was trying to get out, trying to dig his way up to the surface, but he didn't quite make it and he died. So this would suggest that this layer of sediment was deposited very quickly, so much so that this guy couldn't get out. So that could have been a particular storm event. So, this layer, then we would point out to Doctor Cronin and his team, to look at this particular layer for further study. And then try and correlate it with some climatic event or storm event.


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