Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Russell Cave is part of a fluviokarst system located along the edge of the Cumberland Plateau in northeast Alabama. The cave system acts as a surface-subsurface drainage system transporting, depositing, and accumulating large influxes of terrestrial-derived materials (sediments, organic material, and magnetic minerals) into the subsurface system forming sediment traps. Five core sites along various discontinuous sediment banks were collected and sampled in 2 cm intervals. Data collection involved Red-Green-Blue (RGB) color, loss on ignition (LOI), magnetic susceptibility (MS) grain-size analysis, end member mixing analysis (EMMA), and 14C radiocarbon dating. The goals for this research were to identify the sedimentary facies in defined cave zones and understand how the flow history in these zones were preserved in the sediments. Results indicate: 1) various climatic changes are recorded in these sediments(the magnitude and nature of these changes is unable to be determined and/or quantified), 2) grain-size distribution is not dependent on the cave passage being the main passage, 3) the age of the organics within sediment cores is older than 2,000 years (as old as~25,000 years), and 4) sediment banks upstream are reworked and redeposited downstream. The significance of these results is that the age of organic material within sediment cores appear to correlate to near the last glacial maximum, the identification of reworking of material from upstream sediment banks, and identification of depositional mechanisms by end member analysis.


Dr. Jonathan Sumrall

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type



© 2020 Jonathan M. Camelo


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