Image: Anthony Aufdenkampe (right, Stroud Water Research Center), and Rolf Aalto (University of Exeter), shown at London Grove Friends Meeting cemetery. Photo: Kyungsoo Yoo (Department of Soil, Water, and Climate; University of Minnesota) [Click image to enlarge]
By dark of night in an old graveyard, things rustle. At least if that cemetery is at London Grove Friends Meeting in Kennett Square, Pa.
Look between the oldest markers, or under a gnarled oak tree that's been guarding the graveyard since the time of William Penn in 1682. You'll find not a ghost, but a scientist, probing the dirt for the secrets it might reveal.
"These soils have been undisturbed for centuries, if at all, and they hold the key to understanding how humans have altered the landscape," says geoscientist Anthony Aufdenkampe of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Christina River Basin Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) on the border of Delaware and Pennsylvania.
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Riverine coupling of biogeochemical cycles between land, oceans, and atmosphere. Aufdenkampe, A. K., Mayorga, E., Raymond, P. A., Melack, J. M., Doney, S. C., Alin, S. R., Aalto, R. E., and Yoo, K. (2011): Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9:53-60.