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Digging Holes and Filling Batteries -- A party in Vidalia, Georgia

Sugar - 12 hours 8 min ago

The SUGAR deployment team arrived en-masse on Saturday bringing the Line 2 personnel total to a whopping 45! The day started off with science and overview lectures by the SUGAR principle investigators Donna Shillington and Dan Lizarralde.  Students diligently rearranged the ten’s of Texan boxes into a makeshift lecture hall, complete with a projector and a Bluetooth sound system. 
With the science lecture complete and stomachs full of pizza, the entire group ventured out to conduct a practice deployment under the watchful eyes of the PASSCAL instrument team.  All 17 teams participated in the activity, standing in a single file line in front of our hotel digging practice holes, connecting the Texans to the geophones, and mindfully orientating them with their handy-dandy bubble levels. 
After a sweat filled hour under the Georgia sun, we caravanned back to the instrument center for a “battery party”. I call it a battery party in honor of the “streamer parties” that students will often participate in on active source seismic research cruises in which kilometers of cable need to be reeled off and rearranged.  In our case a battery party consisted of the 32 students placing 2 D-cell batteries inside each of the 2,000 Texans.  The instrument center quickly transformed from an orderly lecture hall into a mass of empty battery boxes and disassembled Texans though despite the apparent chaos, we got the job complete and the Texans filled in only a few short hours. 
Next up will be flagging the instrument locations and the actual deployment.  We have our fingers and toes crossed for dry weather and safe road conditions as the student teams prepare to set off on their flagging and deployment expeditions. 

Natalie Accardo - Columbia University, LDEO


The SUGAR2 deployment team hails from all across the United States
covering more than 15 states and 21 different universities/institutions.   
The deployment team sits with rapt attention listening to
the science and overview lecture.
Students practice digging holes and deploying Texans
near our hotel in Vidalia, Georgia.
Students and PASSCAL personnel take over the instrument center
filling 2,000 Texans with D-cell batteries.
The "battery party" comes to an end as the last Texans are filled and
the boxes are rearranged for easy late-night programming by the PASSCAL team.  



Dry Days Bring Ferocious Start to Fire Season - The New York Times

Featured News - Sun, 08/02/2015 - 11:00
Another summer of record-breaking drought and heat has seized the western U.S., setting off costly and destructive wildfires. Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams explains that despite rain some in areas, heat and evaporation is leaving too little moisture to meet the demand.

2000 “Texans” with all the fixin’s….

Sugar - Sun, 08/02/2015 - 08:21
During our project, we plan to record sound waves generated by a series of controlled blasts on two profiles, one with 2000 instruments (“Texans”) deployed along a 350-mile-long profile across Georgia and another with 700 Texans deployed along an 80-mile-long profile.  In total, that’s 2000 instruments and 2700 deployments!! Lot of instruments means lots of stuff.   The basic components of the instruments themselves were shipped in ~160 big plastic boxes arranged into ~18 pallets.  Each of these instruments will be powered by two D-cell batteries. To power the instruments for both lines, we needed 5500 D-cell batteries.  We picked them up from the Lowes in Vidalia as a 2000-lb pallet.  For each station, we also need flags to mark the locations, and bags and tape to protect the data recorder.  We very quickly filled up our 1800-square-foot field center in Lyons, GA with all these goodies…

Donna Shillington,  LDEO
Freshly delivered pallets of boxes holding all the science equipment
The PASSCAL team re-arranged the boxes into a T for their own devious reasons :)The trusty Silverado loaded down with 2000 pounds of batteries! (Dan for scale).



Drill, Baby Drill! Drilling and filling for the SUGAR seismic shots

Sugar - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 11:14
We are using sound waves to image the subsurface of Georgia along two long transects.  It is like creating a huge x-ray of the geology in the region. Thousands of instruments (termed “Texans”) will record sound waves that are generated from a series of controlled seismic sources (“shots”) that we will set off along the line. 
For the last few weeks, the seismic source team, based at the University of Texas – El Paso, and the drillers have been hard at work drilling twenty-six 60- to 100-foot-deep holes that will contain the explosives used to create the sound waves.  Once the holes are drilled (the first stage of which is termed spudding), emulsion explosives with boosters and caps are carefully installed in the base of the hole and the remaining height is filled in with dirt and gravel (“stemming”). 
Now with the 26 shots drilled and patiently waiting for the electronic signal to blow, all we have left to do is deploy the 2,000 instruments that will record the sound waves … An easy feat for the 50+ scientists, students, and engineers descending on Vidalia, GA over the next few days.  Stay tuned for our progress and adventures as we continue on this epic scientific undertaking.

Natalie Accardo - LDEO
The SUGAR seismic source and science team from left to right:
Steve Harder, Dan Lizarralde, Ashley Nauer, and Galen KaipThe drill rig set up and drilling a shot on SUGAR Line 2.
Galen Kaip prepares the source charges (white tubes) on the truck bed as
the drillers complete a shot hole.
The source team carefully lowers the prepared seismic charges into the complete shot hole.
Ashley Nauer (red hat) stands waiting with shovel in hand to fill the remaining height of
the hole with sand and gravel.   
The drill team monitors the process of spudding, the very first stage of drilling the
shot hole, for SUGAR line 2.
The source team and drill team push on late into the night to ensure the completion of the
final shot for the entire SUGAR experiment.  

Study Finds Drought Impacts Forests More than Previously Thought - Deseret News

Featured News - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 11:00
A study of drought and its effects on the growth of forests finds that it is taking longer for the trees to recover than previously thought, with an impact on carbon sinks. The study's authors include Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams.

Ocean Currents Suggest Plane Debris Could Be from Missing Airliner MH370 - Mashable

Featured News - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 11:00
Lamont-Doherty's Arnold Gordon explains how currents in the Indian Ocean could have carried debris from the area off Australia where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is believed to have disappeared to Reunion Island, where a part from a large plane was found on a beach.

Ramping up for bigger, badder SUGAR Part 2

Sugar - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 22:11
We are in Georgia gearing up for the second phase of field work for the SUGAR project, which will involve collecting seismic refraction data along two profiles spanning eastern Georgia. In the coming weeks, we’ll deploy thousands of small seismometers along county and state roads across the region, which will record sound waves generated by a series of controlled blasts. We can use the sound waves to make pictures of geology beneath the surface. Geological structures beneath Georgia record the most profound events involved in the formation and evolution of the eastern North America continent. In particular, we want to image an ancient suture between Africa and North America that formed when these continents collided to create the supercontinent Pangea, frozen magma bodies from one of the biggest volcanic outpourings in Earth’s history, and continental stretching and thinning that lead to the breakup of Pangea and formation of the Atlantic Ocean.


Map of SUGAR lines, showing two possible locations of the ancient suture (red dotted lines)
We collected similar data in western Georgia last year during the first phase of the SUGAR experiment imaging these same features. During that field program, we deployed 1200 seismometers and set off 11 controlled blasts along a 250-mile-long line, which felt like a big project at the time. But this year, we will go even bigger! In eastern Georgia, we need to span an even larger area to encompass our geological targets. One of the reasons that we need to look at a bigger swath of the earth is that there is a debate about the location of the suture here – it could be as far north as Milledgeville, GA or as far south as Baxley, GA. (In case you are not up on your Georgia geography, those towns are ~100 miles apart). This means longer profiles, more instruments and more blasts! We will deploy a total of 2700 seismometers and detonate 26 blasts along two profiles. The longer profile spans 350 miles from Winder, GA to the Florida-Georgia state line near St Mary’s Georgia. Stay tuned!

Donna Shillington, LDEO 



Lamont's Suzanne Carbotte Named to American Geophysical Union's 2015 Fellows - AGU

Featured News - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 11:00
AGU fellows are honored for making exceptional scientific contributions in the fields of Earth and space sciences. Lamont-Doherty marine geophysicist Suzanne Carbotte was named to the 2015 class.

Stay Tuned for SUGAR 2!!

Sugar - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 20:57
In just a few short weeks a mass of students and scientists will descend on southern Georgia with work boots and sunscreen in hand to take part in the second portion of the SUGAR active source experiment.  Make sure to stay tuned for regular updates on our progress and to learn more about the exciting science that motivates this amazing field expedition!

Hospitalizations Increase Near Fracking Sites, Study Shows - Medical Xpress

Featured News - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 11:00
A new study involving Lamont-Doherty researchers finds hospitalization rates up for heart, neurological and skin complaints in areas of Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region with large concentrations of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Urbanization Threatens Drought-Reducing Clouds in California - EOS

Featured News - Thu, 07/16/2015 - 11:00
Since the mid-20th century, increased urbanization along the southern California coast has raised nighttime temperatures, resulting in less morning fog and cloud cover. Highlights research by Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams, Richard Seager, and Ben Cook.

The Collision that Changed the World, by Wally Broecker - Elementa

Featured News - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 11:00
Fifty million years ago, India collided with an island arc that rimmed Eurasia. It was the collision that changed the world, writes Lamont-Doherty's Wally Broecker.

What's Next for the UNOLS Research Fleet? - EOS

Featured News - Tue, 07/14/2015 - 11:00
EOS looks at what's next for the UNOLS research fleet, a partnership between the U.S. government and universities exploring the oceans, featuring Lamont-Doherty's RV Marcus G. Langseth.

Backward-Moving Glacier Helps Explain Glacial Earthquakes - Environmental Research Web

Featured News - Wed, 07/08/2015 - 11:00
New insights into glacier behavior could improve our ability to predict future sea-level rise in a warming climate says an article focusing on research by Lamont-Doherty's Meredith Nettles.

Rainforest Wildfires & Melting Ice Caves: High Temps Are Causing Havoc in Washington - Vice News

Featured News - Wed, 07/08/2015 - 11:00
Lamont-Doherty's Tim Creyts explains how ice caves form. High temperatures have led to partial collapses of ice caves in Washington state.

America's Next Crippling Drought: Why California Could Be a Glimpse into the Future - Salon

Featured News - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 11:00
Lamont-Doherty scientist Jason Smerdon weighs in on megadroughts and projections for the future under climate change.

Greenland’s iceberg factory: Where the Empire State Building is too short a yardstick - New York Times

Featured News - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 11:00
Lamont's Meredith Nettles describes a gigaton-sized chunk of glacier breaking off.

Climate and the Khan - Discover Magazine

Featured News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 11:00
A fortuitous shift in weather patterns fueled the Mongol Empire's explosive growth 800 years ago. Today, a less favorable change is underway, as work by Lamont-Doherty researchers shows.

Breathe In: Putting Green Walls to the Test - Architect Magazine

Featured News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 11:00
Working with researchers, doctors, and immunologists from several organizations, including Lamont-Doherty, the designers are studying the relationship between pathogens in the indoor environment and biodiversity to try to bring fresh outdoor air in.

To Grasp What We're Doing to the Planet, You Need to Understand this Gigantic Measurement - Washington Post

Featured News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 11:00
Measuring ice loss in gigatons. Includes glacial earthquake research by Lamont-Doherty's Meredith Nettles.
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