Here is a paper that explains how to create your own diagram, and the scientific principles behind cores as a form of data collection:
LifeCores and EventCores: Using core samples as metaphors for describing personal change (By Heidi LaMoreaux)
Figure 1 – Tree Core
2) Major events may appear in cores as a thin distinct layer
a. Volcanic eruption would show up as a thin layer of volcanic ash
b. A flood may be a different color of sediment
c. A fire could result in a layer of burned soil or ash
EXAMPLE: On the Sandy Run Creek, GA Core Diagram (Figure 2), the “sand stringers” are examples of distinct events that can be diagrammed (column on the far right). Sand stringers are thin sand layers in the core that are associated with short-term flood events. Note that most of these sand stringers occur in sediment unit “F”.
Have you experienced a major event or events that were so different from the rest of your life, so altering, that they would appear distinct from other aspects of your life? If so, this idea of a thin ash layer or burned layer may be something to include in your core diagram.
Figure 2 – A Sediment Core of Sandy Run Creek, Georgia
3) Major changes in the environment may show up as changes in the color and texture of the core
a. A cold dry environment may show up in a core as light colored sand
b. A wet environment may show up as grey mud or black peat
c. A series of storms storm may wash in layers of different colored sediment
Example: Note the different patterns that are used in the second column to represent differences in the Sandy Run Creek core (Figure 2). These symbols represent the very real differences in sediment layers – variations in texture and color.
Did you live in one place for a short time? Was one period of your life so different from the others that it might show up as an altered layer? What color would this layer be? How different in “color” or “texture” was this time period? In a tree core or a stalactite, periods of heightened growth are wider rings, and periods of drought are thinner rings.
4) Objects can become trapped in cores which give important information about the environment
a. Macrofossils (bits of plants or animals)
b. Ancient air, water, etc.
c. Objects (archaeological artifacts, pollen, charcoal, etc.)
Example: There are no examples of these objects in the Sandy Run Creek Core Diagram as this scientific study did not look for macrofossils (bits of plants included in the core).
Are there certain objects that represent particular times or events in your life (ex: a wedding ring, a favorite toy, an object from a relative, etc.)? If so, where would these objects be located within your core? Why would you choose this object and not another object?
5) Sometimes deposition stops and then starts again.
This is called a “hiatus”. Extreme drought or extreme cold are common causes of a natural hiatus. During a hiatus, growth just stops, but no erosion of underlying layers occurs. You might experience a hiatus if very little growth happened in your life during a certain time period.
Example: See Heidi’s Lifecore (Figure 3) at 49 cm.
Was there a period in your life where you did not experience much growth – a stagnant period? Was there a time when depression, a bad relationship, or other factors limited or slowed your growth?
6) Sometimes depositions stops, erosion occurs, and then deposition starts again on the newly created land surface.
The new depositional surface is called an “unconformity” or an “erosional unconformity.” An example of this would be when a major life change “washes away” the old and a completely new kind of life begins.
Example: In the Sandy Run Creek Core (Figure 2), an erosional unconformity occurs at about 350 cm depth. In Heidi’s Lifecore (Figure 3), the “Major Life Change” is an example of an erosional unconformity.
Have you experienced a violent or altering event that caused who you “used to be” to be eroded away? If so, what was taken away by this event and what remained? What would this transformation look like in your core – a color? An absence of color?
To create a Lifecore or Eventcore Diagram:
To complete this event, it is helpful to have the following on hand:
1. A pencil and eraser (as you might decide to change the position of lines and objects in your core diagram)
2. A set of colored pencils or markers
3. Several sheets of paper (invisible line vellum (one brand is Fade-out design and sketch vellum by Clearprint) or graph paper is ideal because it creates a grid, but blank paper will work too). Sometimes you may want to start with large paper to give yourself additional writing room.
4. A pen to ink in the final version.
5. Collage elements. If you are doing this over a longer period, you may wish to add family photos, actual objects (see #8 below), or art papers. The final version of your core diagram can be large and incorporate actual photographs, soil, and plants if desired (see “Example of a Core Diagram by Heidi LaMoreaux” (Figure 4).
1. Create a list of what you will include in your core. You should brainstorm major events and changes in your life. Just make a list. If you know the approximate date the event or change occurred, you can write it down. Examples of changes and events might include moving to a new location (lived in Utah from ___ to ____), major events in your life (college from ___ to ___;, involved in a relationship from ___ to ____). You could also include world events which impacted your life. You should also brainstorm events which changed your life, hiatuses or erosional unconformities, and other details you want to include in your core diagram.
Figure 3 -- Heidi’s Lifecore
2. Now, sketch in a column to represent your core. You will be filling in dates, colors, and textures as this exercise progresses. Cores are usually shown vertically, with the oldest part of the core at the bottom, and the youngest part at the top. You might want to orient your paper accordingly. If you choose to do a circular diagram (like a stalactite or a tree), start from the center and work your way out. See Heidi’s Lifecore (Figure 3) as an example for steps 2-9).
3. When does the core start? - is the oldest date at the bottom or in the center? If you are doing a Lifecore, it is possible to include events that pre-date your birth. Including these earlier dates or events can help you to include effects of your ancestry or historical events prior to your birth. If you are diagramming an event, you can also include events which predate and postdate the primary event you are focusing on.
4. When does the core end? – is it the present date at the top or is another date when the core ends? If you are doing a complete Lifecore, you might have your birth date at the bottom and the present date at the top. If you are representing just a chunk of your life or a specific event, the dates and times may NOT be the date of your birth at the bottom and the present date at the top. You should mark these dates on your core diagram.
5. Decide what different “chapters” or depositional periods are going to be in the core. Take your answers from #1 and correlate the events to major chapters or depositional periods. Refer to Figure 2 for a real-life example of a scientific core. Your depositional periods might include major events or sets of events (ex: for education – primary school, middle school, high school, college). Movement to different places might also be a basis for major changes in your core “sediment type.” You could also use different relationships, or different “themes” in your life (religious vs. not religious).
6. What is the basic texture of each core segment? Examine each of your different “chapters” or deposition periods. For each period, determine the texture for each sediment layer. Would the layer be grainy, rough, smooth, etc.?) You can use soil, plants, or other objects to create your core also. You could also use collage elements – different colors, papers, photographs, etc. to create your core.
7. What color should each core segment be? What color represents this period of time or this series of events? You can correlate these life segments to colors that represent the mood or the character of the time period. Let your intuition guide you.
8. What might be trapped in the core? Is there an important symbolic object you could include? You can use either ordinary objects (everyday objects associated with the time period) or extraordinary objects (unique objects that have significant meaning).
9. Is there a major event that would show up as a thin layer in the core? If so, what would this major event look like? What color, texture, etc. would this event layer have?
10. Don’t be discouraged if you need to go through several drafts to get one you like. This exercise is about the experience, and the memories that come up in association with the creation of this core. The final core in Figure 3 went through many sketch drafts prior to creation of the final core diagram.
11. If you are working toward creating a memoir, do a free-write about each of the time periods or major events in your core diagram. Writing will help you to improve your core diagram, and to generate material for your memoir. One method that works well is to set a timer for 5 minutes to brainstorm words associated with the time period you are working on, then switch to a different sheet of paper and write for an additional 5 minutes. Finally reset the timer for an additional 5 minutes and finish your piece. Then let the piece of writing “sit” for a day or two, then edit. If you do writing exercise this for each core diagram layer, you will have a substantial body of writing by the end of these short writing exercises (See What It Is by Lynda Barry for additional details).
Example of Core Diagram by Heidi LaMoreaux
The different layers of the core are different soil types (in the center). The lines from the core that connect with the pictures on the left correlate core segments with photographs from the same time period. Pictures on the right are of important places.
Examples of core segments from Heidi's LifeCore Project (a collection of slices with images and objects arranged on a pole so that the slices form a core and can still rotate for individual viewing)