August 2, 2008 Knock, Knock
Since we've been at Isfjord Radio there have been other scientists here too. Hanne Christiansen and Ole Humlum from UNIS were here working on their permafrost studies (Thermal State of Permafrost in Norway and Svalbard - TSP Norway), Trine Holme and Espen Donali from the University of Oslo were here working on their limnology studies, and Anne Hormes form UNIS was here to install a plumecam at Lake Kongress. We also had a visit from about 25 Norwegian officials who are on a two week cruise around Svalbard, stopping at a number of ports to investigate the activities taking place on Svalbard. It's been a treat for us to interact with the visiting scientists since their work is different from ours although all related to Polar Science.
Three of us, Maya, Jesse and I, went to Lake Kongress to collect sediment samples for Maya's study. The alluvial fans around Lake Kongress can be discerned as the "black fan" and the "white fan" since the bedrocks that create them are made up of rock material that is either dark colored or light colored. Maya is collecting numerous samples in each fan to take back to the lab at Smith College where she will use X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction (and possibly isotopes too) to look for a chemical signature specific to each rock type. She will also be taking a sediment core from Lake Kongress, and will analyze the core for the presence of the chemical signature she found in the sediments. This information will allow her to compare the changing input of the two fans into Lake Kongress and glacial movement during the Holocene (last 10,000 yrs).
A field geologist must be systematic in their sampling, and while in the field needs to document the location of their samples using a GPS, take copious notes about the sample site, weather conditions, etc. Before the sample is retrieved, the sample bag is labeled with an identifier specific to the sample, the sample date and location. The bag is then filled and the sample site photographed. Once back at the station, all the information collected in the field notebook must be transferred to a computer while the information is fresh. Finally the samples must be packed to be shipped home. In Maya's case she will remove some water out of the samples before she packs them up; otherwise they are ready to go.
Challenge Question of the Day: Find information on the Mississippi River Basin. How big is it? What are the main tributaries in the basin? What is the daily sediment load of the river? Where does all this sediment come from? Is there a way to investigate where it comes from?