into the field where they undoubtedly got a little mud on their tires. Each pair of field assistants was given a segment of the seismic line to drive and flag locations for instrument installation deemed safe both from the seismograph (i.e. dry, firm soil) and the install team (i.e. a safe distance from the road). Given the shear distance of the seismic line, teams found themselves amid diverse backdrops from rolling farmland with overly friendly cows to buzzing residential neighborhoods to sandy stretches flanked by towering groves of Ponderosa Pine trees. Antonio placing a flag and using a GPS device to note the location where a
seismograph will be installed amid the sandy surroundings of a Ponderosa Pine farm.Every team was able to flag all their sites within just two days leaving us the luxury of a sunny Saturday morning free for exploring more of our beautiful Georgia surroundings. Next up is the actual task of installing the 1200 seismographs which will involve twice the people, six more (temporarily clean) vehicles, and of course countless exciting adventures from the field. Happy (almost) St. Patrick’s Day from Americus!A picturesque county road near Jasper, FL along which instruments will be deployed.-- Natalie Accardo, LDEO
Adrian Gutierrez, 13 March 14
7:30 am: Leave Georgia Southwestern State University, where we are staying, and head to the site8:20 am: Arrive at site 8:30 am: Start drilling and take geological samples every 5 ft.
9:00 am: Dyno Nobel truck arrives; load emulsion into cut PVC pipe sections that serve as a holders for emulsion. 9:30 am: Surprise visit from other scientists on the project9.50 am: Setting up the booster in the emulsion.11.20 am: Loading the explosives into the drill hole12.00 pm: Drill crew starts removing their equipment12.45 pm: Tagging the charges and plugging the hole3.15 pm: Move onto the next drill site.Nighttime: Finally back to the dorm.
An ancient grain of zircon found
In Jack Hill sandstone north of Perth,
Inside its crystal lattice bound:
Secrets of our planet’s birth.
The oldest grain (we rock hounds swoon),
Tells of magma oceans past,
An early impact yields the moon;
And all of this occurred so fast!
The zircon’s old, which then implies
That solid rocks must be still older.
In Canada, a sequence lies,
With implications even bolder!
A pattern locked within old lava
Echoes patterns from the deep;
Mariana-like subduction …
To plate tectonics, take the leap!
Hadean times are cloaked in intrigue,
Eons distant, full of strife,
Yet it seems these rocks held promise,
Full of boron, primed for life!
In the news:
New Record for Oldest Earth Rock, Sky and Telescope
Hadean age for a post-magma-ocean zircon confirmed by atom-probe tomography, Nature Geoscience
The Dawn of Plate Tectonics, Science Now
Fortunately, we have a lot of space! Our field headquarters is located in a historic gym on the campus of Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, GA. Faculty and staff at GSW have been extraordinarily generous with their time and expertise. They are allowing us to use the Florrie Chappel gym as our base of operations, and they have helped us enormously with Georgia geology and logistics coordination, handling our huge shipment of equipment and supplies, housing on the campus (many of us are staying in one of the dorms!), setting up the gym with internet access, power, and tables, and much, much more. Today, they moved all of the boxes with our seismic equipment from the shipping warehouse to our field headquarters in the gym. I can sense that all of our seismic instruments are itching to be deployed....Pallets waiting outside the Florrie Chappell gymDonna Shillington
11 March 2014
To prepare for our big seismic experiment, we have collected a couple of miniature seismic datasets. The shallow geology varies substantially along our profile and is very important for planning the depth of drilling and size of our seismic sources. In particular, we need to determine the depth to a limestone layer in a few places. The same seismic method that we will use to understand the deep geological structures beneath Georgia can also be used at a smaller scale to examine layering in the upper ~100 ft (~30 m) beneath the surface. We recorded the data on 24 geophones attached to a 230-ft-long (70-m-long) cable. The source was a modified shot gun that looks like a pogo stick. We drilled small holes in the ground, loaded the gun and stuck it in the hole. To limit the kickback, we weighted the gun down with a metal plate topped by two heavy jugs filled with sand. Hit the plate with a mallet and – BANG – a seismic source! Not a bad way to spend a sunny Sunday!
Check out Dan firing the seismic source...
9 March 14
Satellites cast their wide gaze
At night, on the bright Bakken blaze;
Bright as a large, sparkly city,
Up close, it’s not quite as pretty.
What fate might this appetite bring?
In government halls, squabbles ring.
Key to the carbon debate
Is the last Termination’s change rate.
What’s our scenario worst?
Was warming or CO2 first?
New ice core studies profess
A 200-year lag — or less.
A puzzle to solve ere we burn:
The process of compacting firn.
Synchronous Change of Atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic Temperature During the Last Deglacial Warming, Parrenin et al., Science 2013
Leads and Lags at the End of the Last Ice Age, Brooks, Science 2013
Study of Ice Age Bolsters Carbon and Warming Link, Gillis/NYT 2013
A Mysterious Patch Of Light Shows Up In The North Dakota Dark, Krulwich/NPR 2013
The New Oil Landscape, Dobb/National Geographic 2013
This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. First posted 3/1/13 on Allen’s website.
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. We walked past the rows of drying unfired bricks to the massive kiln built from the bricks themselves. We saw them feeding coal into the hot, actively firing part and unloading bricks from the completed quadrant. This would be followed by loading of raw bricks for the 12-hour firing. This factory makes around 9,000,000 bricks in the six-month season. Although it was their lunch break, they demonstrated the mixing of the mud with a little sand and let me carry a half-full wheelbarrow load to where the bricks were
shaped. I spilled a full load when I tried to move it. The experienced brickmakers took about 30-seconds per brick.
We stopped for lunch at the same roadside restaurant, then went to find Wari-Betashwar. Getting to the archeological site was not easy, but a mixture of my hand-held GPS with a Landsat image and a Bangladeshi phone with completely inaccurate Google maps eventually got us there a little after 4 p.m. We toured the site with the chief archeologist, but all the excavations had been filled in to protect them during the off-season. As we walked around the 600m by 600m protective wall, Prof. Rahman explained the history of the site. This urban
center was founded around 500 BC on land slightly uplifted by one of the anticlines. The slight extra elevation protected the land from flooding. The site was by the side of an old path of the Brahmaputra River and was thus a major trading center. Artifacts from as far as Greece and Rome were found here. After a gap in the record, the city flourished again in the 7th century AD, before being abandoned. The rise and fall of the center may be tied to avulsions, or switches in position of the Brahmaputra, making the site an interesting confluence of tectonics, rivers and people.
Continuing on, the students got a taste of Dhaka traffic as we approached our hotel near the airport. Now came the real
splitting up of the group. The foreigners would stay overnight to begin our return home, while the Bangladeshis would fight the traffic to return to Dhaka University and their homes. Many of us spent most of the time until our 2:30 a.m. departure talking. Twenty-three of us and our luggage and equipment managed to squeeze into a 21-seat bus and made it to the airport. Now, once again problems with our tickets arose. While most of us were fine, almost half only got boarding passes as far as Abu Dhabi, or none at all. Eventually they fixed the problem for most of them, and all of us were able to board the delayed aircraft. The delays here and in the flight to New York and Chicago will mean that the vast majority will miss connections. At least my nightmare scenario of missed flights and connections was happening on the way back. Not the smoothest ending, but it has been a great trip and a very successful field school. Several of the students are trying to figure out how to get back to Bangladesh, and a lot of lasting friendships and connections have been made.