Geohazards in Bangladesh

Geohazards in Bangladesh
Date: Started 2011
Project Lead: Michael S. Steckler
Project Website: BanglaPIRE

Earthquakes, floods, sea-level rise and sudden shifts in river courses threaten many of the 150 million Bangladeshis living in the low-lying Brahmaputra River delta. Scientists from Lamont-Doherty, Dhaka University and other institutions have begun a five-year project to understand the hazards and the possible hidden links among them. Lamont geophysicist Michael Steckler keeps us up to date on the work.

Geology and Filming in Mizoram

by | 3.27.2015 at 2:08pm
A small boat sailing up a scenic river in Mizoram.

In the small town of Kolasib, we stayed in Hotel Cloud 9. I had been told since I was a child that I was always off on Cloud 9 and now I was actually here. However, the electricity wasn’t for the first few hours, so showers were cold, but the dinner was hot.

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.

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.

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.

Bricks, an Archeological Site and Home

by | 3.7.2014 at 8:33am
One of the myriad brick factories in Bangladesh.  The lack of rocks means bricks are widely used for construction.

It was time to pack up and leave. Shofiq, who is from Sylhet, was dropped off near his home and the fellowship of the rocks was broken. We settled in for another long drive. We made an impromptu stop at one of the numerous brick factories scattered across Bangladesh. Here, the workers immediately started snapping pictures of us with their phones.

Field School: Sylhet Tectonics

by | 3.7.2014 at 7:46am
Standing in India by the Dauki River and Shillong Plateau at Jaflong..

Most field trips have a “death march” hiking a long way through forest, swamps, hills or deserts to get to a remote outcrop. We have a “death bus ride” instead.

Field School: The Brahmaputra River

by | 3.4.2014 at 12:29am
Sunset over the  Brahmaputra River as we prepare to depart the region for NE Bangladesh.

The first day was very light for the jet-lagged students, just a short introduction to the field school and some background, and then introductions all around as we started to get to know each other. The final group of nine students finally arrived around 9 p.m. They were the most worn-out, bedraggled bunch of travelers I have ever seen.

Tangail and the Start of the Field School

by | 2.26.2014 at 12:21pm
The Shahid Minar in Dhaka, the monument to language day on the site of the killings.  There are many smaller copies around Bangladesh.  On Language Day, they are covered by wreaths of flowers placed by everyone from politicians to school children.

Feb. 21 is Language Day in Bangladesh. It is a holiday, now adopted by the UN as International Mother Language Day. It commemorates a day in 1952 when a crowd of Bengali students protesting Pakistan’s adoption of “Urdu and only Urdu as the official language of Pakistan” were fired upon by the police. It marks the beginning of the move towards the independence of East Pakistan.