A two day general strike disrupted our field plans, but Bangladeshis are adept at adapting to any change. We walked the local outcrops one day and hired a small pickup truck the next and managed to accomplish our goals despite the political turmoil.
Our project studying the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta in Bangladesh consists of many components studying different tectonic and sedimentary aspects of the geology. To bring all the parts together, we are holding a meeting we are calling the “conclave” in NE Bangladesh. We are jointly visiting places that can help us to develop an integrated understanding of the basin.
Glenn Denning grew up in Brisbane, Australia, loved the outdoors and hated the idea of working in an office. And, he really didn’t have any urge to go to other countries. Then he happened to overhear a conversation in a hallway between two students. That bit of serendipity sent him on a road to a life overseas; to key roles in “green revolutions” in Asia and Africa; and eventually to an office at Columbia University, and the Earth Institute.
For our final installation, we had to go from the edge of the Bay of Bengal almost to Bangladesh’s northern border with India, a trip of over 350 miles. Along the way we stopped at Humayun’s childhood home, had several flats and picked up a student of Humayun’s from the town where we installed it. After getting the GPS set up at the site he selected, we concluded with a feast at his home, driving by signs of the upcoming Hindu and Muslim festivals, and our own final celebration.
We traveled by boat to the south part of the Sundarbans near the Indian Ocean to install a GPS at Hiron Point, this isolated facility also hosts a tide gauge recording long-term water level changes due to rising sea level and land subsidence. Our GPS will help distinguish how much of each there is in the midst of the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Polder 32 is one of the many inland islands in Bangladesh that was enclosed by an embankment to protect it from flooding. When that embankment failed during Cyclone Aila in 2009, the island was flooded for almost 2 years. Subsidence of the ground inside the embankment with no sedimentation to compensate made it worse. We are installing a GPS at a school there to monitor the subsidence.
Leaving Dhaka, we spend an entire day getting to Khepupara in southern Bangladesh. Then we spent a long morning installing a GPS to monitor subsidence of the delta before heading back on the road again.
I’ve just arrived back in Bangladesh with an engineer to install 6 new GPS stations to add to our studies of earthquake hazards and land subsidence. Our first stop was Comilla University, the westernmost exposed fold of the collision between the Ganges-Bramaputra Delta and the Sumatra-Andaman-Burma plat boundary.
Our highly interconnected and interdependent world has given rise to an extraordinary collaborative effort to design a future that is sustainable, prosperous and empowering. The recently concluded Clinton Global Initiative 2012 annual meeting’s theme, “Designing for Impact,” focused on designing our lives, environments and the global systems that can create more opportunity and equality.
Earth Institute scientists explore how the physical world works on every continent — over and under the arctic ice, in the grasslands of Mongolia, on volcanoes in Patagonia, over subduction zones in Papua New Guinea, and on the streets of New York City.