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Big Ben: a new wide-bore piston corer for multi-proxy palaeolimnology


We present a design for a large diameter piston corer, deployed from a raft that is suitable for use in shallow lakes. The piston corer, known as Big Ben, consists of a core tube, a piston on a rope and a corer head, to which rods are attached to drive the tube into the sediment. A core catcher, which aids the support of the core tube when full of sediment, has been incorporated into the design. To extrude the sediment, a framework has been designed to keep the core tube upright and stationary and a modified bottle jack is used to push the piston upwards during the extrusion process. The practical operation of the Big Ben coring system from setting up a coring platform to collecting and safely extruding a core is detailed. Finally we summarise recent experiences of deploying the corer and highlight its potential uses in the developing field of multi-proxy palaeolimnology.

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The authors wish to acknowledge Roger Flower for initial discussions regarding the design of a wide-diameter piston corer. Thanks are also due Nigel Cameron for later discussion regarding technical aspects, to Cath D’Alton for producing the figures and Gizem Bezirci, Suzanne McGowan and Beth Okamura for providing the photographs. Finally we thank Suzanne McGowan and an anonymous reviewer for their useful and constructive reviews which have much improved the final paper. This paper was written with support to Carl Sayer from the European Union FP7 project ‘BIOFRESH’ (Contract No. 226874).

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Correspondence to Ian R. Patmore.

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Patmore, I.R., Sayer, C.D., Goldsmith, B. et al. Big Ben: a new wide-bore piston corer for multi-proxy palaeolimnology. J Paleolimnol 51, 79–86 (2014).

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  • Shallow lake
  • Big Ben
  • Piston corer
  • Macrofossil
  • Multi-proxy palaeolimnology