I’m back in Bangladesh with a small team after a year and a half away. One different is a police escort as a result of the attacks last year. We start by successfully sampling river sediments to correct the date of an earthquake that caused a river to shift over 3,500 years ago. We also will be fixing broken equipment, visiting the ever changing rivers and hopefully meeting with the public and government officials about the earthquake hazard.
Mike Steckler, Author at State of the Planet - Page 2 of 7
Despite the miserable weather and ongoing rain, we constructed a wooden structure to hold the GPS receivers, solar panels and other electronic equipment between the three wells. We worked out how and where to mount the antennas and had parts made to accomplish it. Although I had to leave before it was completed, the team persevered through the storm and now we will be monitoring ground subsidence and sediment compaction in the Mississippi Delta.
This summer I am in the Mississippi Delta in southern Louisiana helping to install an updated version of the compaction meters that we have in Bangladesh. The environment is quite different and we have arrived in the midst of an historic storm. Luckily for us the brunt of the storm is NW of us. So far, we are still able to work between the rain above and the mud below.
We finished our work at the river transect. Now we had one more sample to collect. Alamgir had arranged for drillers at this new site, but they were delayed because of a knife fight between two villages over some property.
The success of the tube wells for drilling and obtaining samples was a great boon to our field program. We drilled three additional tube wells to complete a five-well transect across the abandoned river valley. When we date the samples, we will find out if the river switched position suddenly, possibly from an earthquake.
The resistivity testing was hampered by bad roads and flooded fields. The augering was proving similarly difficult in the thick muds of the abandoned channel. It was time to change to our alternative plan: drilling with tube wells. That worked better and we had turned a corner.
Heading out to our field area, we discovered that the abandoned river valley we planned to study was completely flooded. There was pani—the Bangla word for water—everywhere.
Returning to Bangladesh for additional fieldwork, I stopped off in India for several meetings, but we found time for some sightseeing, too. We were able to see the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi as well as the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort in Agra. Plus all the meetings in Delhi, Kolkata and Dhaka were very successful.
We arrived in Kolkata, and filmed by the Hooghly River. While it is no longer the main channel of the Ganges, it is still the Holy Ganges and we saw a funeral procession spreading ashes of a loved one while filming there. Then a 5 hour trip by car, ferry, rickshaw and boat to the Indian Sundarbans. The mangrove forest here is undergoing more erosion and land loss than in Bangladesh, where more river sediments can replenish it. The water here is more saline and the trees are small. A tiger was spotted by another boat, but was gone when we got there.
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.