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.

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.

GPS in Khulna and the Hidden Temple

by | 2.21.2014 at 5:27am | 2 Comments
The ruins of the ~400 year old Shakher Temple to the Hindu goddess Kali.

Rushing around SW Bangladesh by boat and car, we managed to install or repair four GPS sites in record time. We caught up our lost day and managed to get to the ruins of the Shakher Temple in the Sundarban mangrove forest.

Back to Bangladesh, changing plans as we go

by | 2.19.2014 at 12:48pm
Sailing through one of the myriad channels in the Sundarban mangrove forest.

Back to Bangladesh for some fieldwork and then a two-week Field School. However, this time we had problems starting before we even left NY. Working in Bangladesh you have to be flexible. Nothing goes as planned, but usually everything works out in the end.

Jamuna River

by | 2.23.2013 at 6:54am | 3 Comments

The last part of our river work was on the Jamuna River, as the Brahmaputra is called south of where if diverges from its former course. It shifted up to 100 km to this course about 200 years ago. We visited Sirajganj where an embankment protects the city from the migrating river and Aricha near the confluence of the Jamuna and Ganges. We ended our journey by standing with one foot in each of these two great rivers.

Brahmaputra chars

by | 2.22.2013 at 9:24am

We traveled to the Brahmaputra River, one of the most active on the planet, to continue our fieldwork. We visited two places while working our way downstream and saw the rapid changes in the river bank and chars (islands). At one ghat (dock) the river had eroded a mile of the coast while in the other it added a similar amount. The chars had moved, appeared, disappeared and reemerged. In this changing environment, the resilient Bangladeshi char people shifted and adapted with the land.

Sampling The Ganges

by | 2.19.2013 at 5:35am

For the final part of my journey, we will be visiting numerous sites, mainly on the main rivers of Bangladesh. The samples and field data will ground truth and calibrate satellite data improving our analyses. We first stopped at an area that had converted from shrimp farming to rice, then spent two days on the mighty Ganges River.

Unplanned Time in Dhaka

by | 2.15.2013 at 6:55am
February 13th was the first day of Bangla Spring and many women (and some men) were dressed in orange and red with flowers in their hair to celebrate.

Due to the speed at which the two Scotts were able to repair the compaction meter, I found myself with two extra days in Dhaka. Besides numerous quickly planned meetings, I got to see the celebration of the arrival of Bengali Spring and the growing protest movement against the light sentence for Islamists convicted of collaboration during the 1971 revolution. This Occupy Dhaka has tangled traffic in an already clogged city.