Category: Earth Sciences

Mapping Faults Hidden below Lake Malawi

by | 3.26.2015 at 7:28pm
The M/V Katundu in port in Nkhata Bay, Malawi.

Marine seismic studies like ours are routinely done in the oceans using scientific equipment and research vessels outfitted specially for these purposes. Collecting comparable data in a great lake in Africa requires creative repurposing of available vessels and adaption of scientific equipment.

Adapting to the Unexpected

by | 3.24.2015 at 10:30am
Preparing the Zodiac to transport the injured crew member to land.

I grew up outside of Chicago and I wasn’t a Boy Scout, so sometimes I feel like I missed out on learning the type of practical—albeit rarely used—skills that would have garnered merit badges. Now that I’m nearing the conclusion of my fourth research expedition at sea, I think I have amassed a few badge-worthy tricks.

Tiger Footprints and Dhaka

by | 3.24.2015 at 9:42am | 1 Comment
Tiger pugmarks (footprints) in the tidal channel.  Our guide estimated 5-6 hours old.

We finished our time in the Sundarbans with a silent boat ride in a tidal creek. The highlight was sets of fresh tiger footprints. We then had a long sail back to Dhaka with only one stop at a village. We then had a whirlwind tour of Old Dhaka with enough shopping to send the students back happy.

Preparing for Seven Weeks at Sea

by | 3.23.2015 at 10:01am
The icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer, our home for the next seven weeks, docked at the pier in Hobart, Tasmania.

For our spring expedition, NBP1503, to the margin of East Antarctica we will live and work on board the United States icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer. Together we are eight scientists, 10 science support staff and 19 crew members of the ship’s crew.

Salt Kilns and Landscape Change in the Sundarbans

by | 3.21.2015 at 6:58am | 1 Comment
As the sun sets, we climb into the launch to leave the island and return to the Kokilmoni

Leaving Hiron Point, we headed east through the Sundarbans to Kotka. At Kotka the students had walks through the forest seeing deer, wild boar and monkeys, while a smaller group also sampled near a set of 300 year old salt making kilns for OSL dating. We managed to finish while the tide inundated the site. We ended our day with a visit to an island that has recently emerged from the slain which the succession from bare sand to mangrove is visible.

Polder 32 and Hiron Point

by | 3.20.2015 at 12:48pm
Group photo at Hiron Point in the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest - a world heritage site.

We visited Polder 32, an embanked island in the delta that was flooded for almost two years when the embankment failed in several places during Cyclone Aila. In addition to the problem of increased subsidence due to the embankment, the area struggles for fresh water. Then we sailed to Hiron Point, a forest station in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. We serviced equipment we have here while our armed guards watch for tigers.

Working in the Bangladeshi Countryside

by | 3.20.2015 at 6:08am
Tanner and Yassamin in a discussion at sunset.

After traveling by boat for two days, including crossing the Sundarban Mangrove Forest, we finally arrived in Khulna. We drove to the site of our compaction meter and separated into teams servicing the instruments, investigating agricultural practices, measuring arsenic in the well water and taking sediment samples for dating. We had finally started our work in rural Bangladesh.

Creating a ‘Safe Space’ for Iconic Ecosystems

by | 3.19.2015 at 2:01pm
Great Barrier Reef

Important global ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest and Great Barrier Reef are in danger of breaking down because of a combination of local pressures and climate change, but better local management could help make these areas more resilient.

Sampling up a Storm

by | 3.16.2015 at 1:00pm
Sampling in Storm

I’m writing from where L’Atalante is currently parked, 18S 170W, right in the middle of a giant, anomalously high sea surface chlorophyll patch. Such a high concentration of chlorophyll—a pigment that helps photosynthetic organisms harvest energy from sunlight, and the one that’s responsible for the green color of plants—can mean but one thing in the ocean: a phytoplankton bloom.

Sailing Around Political Unrest in Bangladesh

by | 3.15.2015 at 7:24am
The M/V Kokilmoni, our home for the next 8 days. This tourist boat for the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest came all the way to Dhaka to pick us up.

With the roads in Bangladesh hazardous to drive because of the ongoing political unrest, our undergraduate sustainable development class managed to proceed with our class trip over Spring Break by doing all travel by boat.