Tree-ring Studies at Centralia College
Using dendrochronology to study
climate and environmental and geologic history
updated April 30, 2018
Why study tree rings?
Dendrochronology is the study of tree rings,
including the measurement and dating of tree rings in living and
"subfossil" trees. Subfossil trees are dead and preserved, but not
permineralized (petrified). The study of tree rings has many practical
applications. It is the best technique used to assertain dates on past
events to the year. The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (LTRR) at the University of Arizona has a good introduction to tree-ring dating. The Tree Ring Lab (TRL)
at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is also an excellent source of
information about tree ring studies and is also a source of software of
use in tree-ring studies.
The Centralia College Tree-Ring Lab
The tree-ring lab is located in the "new" Natural Sciences Building.
constructed in 2009 and is adjacent to the Kiser Natural Outdoor
Learning Laboratory, a natural area that has been integrated into the
campus and deedicated to educational purposes including scientific
studies. The lab is withing walking distance of the Seminary Hill
Natural Area and within easy driving distance of the O'Neill Natural
Area, a 20-acre forest parcel that was donated to the college for
educational activies by Robert and Doris O'Neill.
Lab facilities: The Centralia College dendrochronology lab for
undergraduate instruction and research is fully equiped for doing
tree-ring research. The lab equipment can support a full range of
dendrochronology activities including sample collection from both
living and subfossil trees, sample preparation, and tree-ring analysis.
The equipment includes more than 25 increment borers (16–32 in), saws
of various kinds (including handsaws and wiresaws for field collection
of subfossil wood, and a Grizzly bandsaw for processing larger
speciment). The tree-ring lab contains all the necessary equipment for
mounting and polishing speciments including three belt sanders, a full
collection of abrasive papers as fine as 2,000 grit as well as a supply
of 0000 steel wool; glue, clamps, and tape. An Epson 10,000XL scanner
allows scientific measurements to 0.01 mm precision. A smaller Epson
1680 is also available for scanning polished speciments. The Velmex
measuring stage has a Unislide mechanism, a linear encoder, and a
digital readout. We have 9 stereomicroscopes, seven of which are
stereozoom scopes. One of the trinocular scopes is mounted on a large
boom stand for measuring of large samples. We have two
microscope-adapted digital video cameras as well as miscellaneous field
equipment including measuring tapes, compasses, and gps units (2).
Computer and technology capabilities: The lab has five Dell computers,
three of which are connected to 4 Tb external hard disks for plenty of
storage space; one computer is connected the campus weather station, a
Davis VistaPro2, and to an HP Designjet Printer (plotter) capable of
making posters as wide as 48 in. An adjoining dedicated science
computer lab contains 13 computers loaded with science software
including ImageJ image analysis software for measuring tree rings, and
twenty Science Department laptops are available on an ad hoc
basis. All labs are wifi enabled. The Velmex measuring system is
supported by Voortech Measure J2X software. Windendro analysis
software is loaded on one computer for higher-tech analysis. Vuescan
software for image capture is loaded on both computers that are
Office capabilities: The Natural Science Building has a copy machine,
fax machine, and other standard office equipment and facilities.
Tree rings and field studies at Centralia CollegeTree-ring studies—Undergraduate research in the Cascade Range and Puget Lowland
Tree-ring research at Centralia College—A powerpoint presentation by Pat Pringle at the 2013 NAGT field conference, SOCC Coos Bay OR
Tree-rings studies at Seminary Hill Natural Area in Centralia, Washington
Tree-ring studies at O'Neill Natural Area
"From the Core" — A short video about a class dendrochronology project, by Laura Joy Griffith
Tree-ring web sites
The ultimate tree-ring web pages, by Henri Grissino-Mayer
TREX—Tree-ring Expeditions Tree-ring research activities for undergraduate sciences
Pat's tree-ring links (includes links to manuals and software sites)
Books about tree rings
Agee, J.K., Huff, M.H. 1986. The care and feeding of increment borers. CPSU/UW 86(3): 1-14. [accessed on July 18, 2012 at www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_int/int_gtr244.pdf ]; also in KIRK LIBRARY Pringle e-reserves
Fritts, H.C. 1976. Tree Rings and Climate: Academic Press, New York, 567 pp.
Speer, J.H., 2010, Fundamentals of Tree-Ring Research: The University of Arizona Press. 324pp.
Stokes, M.A.; Smiley, T.L. 1968. An Introduction to Tree-Ring Dating: University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 73 pp.
Henri Grissino Mayer's list of dendro references
Pat's weather and climate links