Here is one final "Mystery Sound" posting, of something we heard quite a bit this summer. If you've ever been camping in the Pacific Northwest, then you've probably heard this at one time or another yourself!
As with the other "Mystery Sounds" I've posted, the video feed can be accessed by clicking this link:
Mystery Sound Video
At the time I am writing this, I am safely back at my home in Bellingham. All the other team members have also either returned home or moved on to their next field season (Jody, Bre, and Andy are now in Sicily!). And most of us, by now, should have about recovered from jet lag and the 18 hour time difference!First, I wanted to apologize to all the "Ask the Team" askers: sorry it took me so long to get to your responses. Our final few days in Y-S were pretty hectic getting all of our samples ready to ship home. And then, once we started on our return trip, I didn't have the time and energy to focus on anymore computer work for awhile.
Next I wanted to share with you some of the details of what we were doing while we were working those last several days, plus a bit about how...
Here is some audio of something we got to see on a recent field trip on our single "day off" in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Can you guess what it is?
I'll give you a hint: it is cold and slippery. But it might not be what you think it is!
Mystery Sound Video
I'll be making a more detailed journal posting tomorrow about the field trip (which was very neat) and our final days in Y-S. Which is to say that we have all departed Y-S, and are on our way HOME (with all of our samples)!
Since my last posting a few days ago, we have successfully (and safely) returned to solid ground. We steamed 670 km (415 miles) across the Sea of Okhotsk from our last field site (Kompaneskii, north Urup Island) back to port at Korsakov, and then by vehicle/s north up the highway to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. We were told to expect 2.5 days for the crossing. But for lots of reasons-lighter loads of fuel, food, and water; a steady tail wind; and the motivation of heading home - Iskatel made great time, and we were back in Korsakov after about 1.75 days.So it was an easy crossing. But it wasn't necessarily an easy trip once we got to port. First, we had to sit at anchor for several hours just offshore of the dock on Sunday afternoon (it still is not clear to me what we were waiting for....)....
We are steaming across the Sea of Okhotsk under sunny skies, making good time with the help of a gentle tail wind. This time we are headed west, on our return to Korsakov. I'll hopefully make a couple more posts from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. But this will be my last posting sent via satellite phone. After this, I will be able to send postings from the internet café in town.Throughout the summer I have talked a lot about how we find sites, how we decide where to dig, and what we do when we make that decision.
Well, lest you think that we always know exactly what we're doing, I think I should tell you about the experience I had in our last two days of field work. And the ways in which we are trying to make the most out of a careless mistake that I made!
I have wanted to return to the...
Today was another day that saw Iskatel (our ship and our home, for a few more days) hiding from a storm on the Pacific Ocean side of Simushir Island. As with our stay up at Matua, we decided to try to do at least some science so that the day wasn't a total waste of time. The wind (and the rain) was coming mostly out of the west today, so the Pacific, or east, side of Simushir was mostly protected. More on the definition of "mostly protected" later.In any case, we sent the archaeology survey team plus Bre MacInnes to shore at Mel'nika Bay to a) look for archaeological sites [they didn't find any today] and b) measure how big the 2006 tsunami was here at Simushir. Last year, Bre determined that highest elevation above sea level that the tsunami covered (called the "run-up...
Ahhh. Another weather day. This time we're on our way to Chirpoi Island, where we are scheduled to spend one day, and then the north end of Urup Island, where we're hoping to spend two days working from the ship. But for now we'll sit behind the protection of Simushir Island, in Dushnaya Bay. Dushnaya Bay is one of the localities where Bre MacInnes has fantastic data from both before and after the 2006 tsunami. But, for better or for worse, we are not going to shore today because this latest low pressure system has given us some pretty snotty weather. Again.
It has been a pretty hectic past several days as we wrapped up a 9-day archaeology field camp on the south end of Rasshua Island. To add to the hectic-ness, we decided late on the 15th (after dinner, in fact) that the weather...
13 August, 2008:
Note from Dr. E:
Dr Ben Fitzhugh, one of the project Principal Investigators, and I discussed the option of him submitting a guest journal entry and we decided that the best candidate entry was actually from his field journal from last summer. We think it gives a pretty neat, and unique, insight into the thought processes we go through while we are excavating a site. This particular entry was made towards the end of our stay on NW Shiashkotan Island, at the Drobnyye site. One of the large house pits we documented was on the very tip of a peninsula of land, with a 3-4 m deep "notch" separating it from the main part of the terrace. The Ainu were known to occasionally establish defensive positions on landforms like this, so we wanted to investigate whether the...
Note from Dr. E: This journal posting is a series of excerpts from Laska's personal journal from the past week or so. Any text in [brackets] has been added by me for clarification.21 July, Ekarma Island: Today we got to get off the boat and on to the island. Setting p camp is boring but important. I helped my dad go around making earth [soil probe] samples to find the best place to dig. No magnificent spots. Better luck later.
22 July, afternoon, Ekarma Island: Walking, walking, walking. I'm sick of it! My dad and I found a digging site today but not supreme. While others started digging dad took Molly [Odell] and I (Molly is a U.W. graduate student) to another possible site just down the beach.
The so-called beach is a strip of giant rock and wooden obstacles. To get to the...
I am a graduate student at the University of Washington, and for the last two summers I have been working on the KBP project in the Kuril Islands as a member of the archaeology team. However, this summer while the rest of the team is in the field again, I am working at the Smithsonian Institution to analyze some of the lithic artifacts that have been excavated over the last two years. Specifically, I am tracing the geologic source of the obsidian artifacts that we have recovered - this is called a provenance study. Obsidian, which is a type of volcanic glass that can be produced when a volcano erupts, is a very useful material for making stone tools. Obsidian creates a very fine and very sharp edge - sharper than the surgical steel used for scalpels found in operating rooms at hospitals....
As far as the list of "questions most often asked of archaeologists” is concerned, the question of "How do you decide where to dig?” is right up there with "Have you ever dug up any dinosaur bones?” and "Have you ever found any gold?” Answers to the latter two are easy: No, and no. Dinosaurs, of course, were extinct many millions of years before anything recognizable as an ancestor to humans was around. And, only a very
tiny minority (maybe 1000th of 1%) of all archaeologists have ever come even close to finding anything gold or related to the gold mining industry.
The first question, though, is a bit trickier to answer. And that’s because the answer depends on what it is you’re trying to learn from the hole you dig.
In an earlier journal posting, for instance, I explained in...
We are on our way to Rasshua Island, hoping to set up a 7- or 8-day camp, with 27 people. I put in the "hoping" part because we are unsure if we will be able to find a spot that has a good source of water for that many people. We were originally scheduled to set camp on August 2nd, but have been forced to change our plans because of the weather. Now, normally, if we're out in the field and the weather gets kind of snotty (45 degrees, windy, raining), we will often work through it. If it's a total downpour, maybe we'll take a break. But for the most part, when you work in the Kuril Islands, you can't really afford to stop work every time the weather is less than ideal. If you did, you would hardly ever get any work done!
But this week was definitely an exception to the rule. A...
The ship is standing off of Matua Island, at Ainu Bay, with our full contingent of ship and field crew. We have a partial day of work (science) and a partial day of "science-geek tourism" scheduled for the day.This is the spot where the Nov 2006 Kuril Islands tsunami hit the hardest, with a run-up of 17-20 m.
Think about that for a minute: 17-20 m of water pushing up onto the shoreline and moving nearly 1 km inland, with maybe 5-10 minutes warning. That's a LOT of water!
So for today, the science part will be to continue to document all of the changes in the landscape since the earthquake and tsunami occurred. By pure luck, we had scientists on shore in Aug 2006 recording what turned out to be invaluable baseline data on what the landscape looked like before the event. We...
A Guest Journal Entry from Bre MacInnes, University of Washington Geology Graduate Student
Bre MacInnes poses for a photo with some of the native plant life on Matua Island. Photo courtesy of Beth Martin
27 July 2008 - Onekotan Field Camp
There are 12 of us right now living on a beautiful meadow full of purple flowers on Onekotan Island - 4 American, 4 Russian, and 4 Japanese geologists. As I'm writing this, the rain is pouring down and we are all huddled either under the tarp over the campfire, working in our tents, or, like me, working on the computer in our large green supply tent. Sergei just turned the generator on, and Slava and Douglas seem to be making sure there is a constant supply of hot tea, so I'm good to go for a long time. Nobody likes doing fieldwork in the rain and...
Our past two days were spent on Makanrushi, a (relatively) tiny little speck of an island off to the west side of the main part of the archipelago (see map). It was a primary target of Dr. Nakagawa's vulcanology team. And our archaeology survey team didn't have anything better to do, so we tagged along for the ride. As small as Makanrushi is, and as far "off the beaten path" as it is, our anticipation was that there would be little or no archaeological material to be found.But boy were we wrong!
After spending a couple hours circumnavigating the island looking for the right combination of safe landing spots and right landforms for archaeological sites, we finally ended up at the south end of the island. We knew ahead of time that the south 1/3 of the island was dominated by...
In an earlier posting (17 July), I mentioned that often we're able to just see the archaeological site (or portion of it) and tell right away what it is. But most of the time it isn't quite so easy, and I thought I would dedicate a posting (or maybe two) to how we actually go about finding these sites.Our archaeology survey team just wrapped up four days of work on the east side of Onekotan Island looking for prehistoric sites in order to get information on when people were living on this island. Much of the east side of the island is dominated by Blakiston Bay, which is a pretty forbidding stretch of coastline (see photo).
Volodya Golubtsov and Dima Chvigian head towards camp on a foggy day at Blackiston Bay Beach, Onekotan Island
First off there's the cliff. It is an eroding...
Wow. We've only put in three partial days of field work so far and I already feel a bit overwhelmed. After our two days (one night of camping) on Shiashkotan, we had an "easy" day of work on Kharimkotan. "Easy" means hiking across spongy tundra and through alder thickets for 5 hours, with about 2 hours spent digging a 1 m X 1 m test excavation (called a "Test Pit," or TP) to look for archaeological samples (which we found, but in low numbers).
See what I mean about not having the energy for ***more ***exercise at the end of the day?
I don't even really have the energy to catch up on all of my paperwork (site descriptions, excavation descriptions, photo archiving and labeling....). But this next round of camping will hopefully give me quite a...
Things are off to a pretty smooth start, with everything we have planned working essentially perfectly. Yesterday morning (the 21st) we successfully dropped off Ben and Shubin's archaeology team at Ekarma. It was definitely an "all hands on deck" sort of operation to get all of the field equipment, all of the personal gear, and most importantly, all of the food for 11 people for a 10-day field camp. That's 110 people-days of food, which is a LOT of food!
I won't have any good way of keeping up with what is going on with them until we pick them up on 31 July or 1 August. We will be in contact with them, but only to establish that all is well with them.
In the meantime, two teams (Archaeology survey and Russian Vulcanology team) camped one night on the north end of Shiaskotan...
We woke up this morning (20 July) at Chirinkotan Island (in the upper right-hand corner of the map posted earlier) and were greeted by a stunning volcanic cone projecting 724 meters out of the sea (see photo) and what seemed like uncountable numbers of birds. In the air. On shore. And sitting on the water surrounding the boat. Just thick with them. Maybe even bazillions of them. They were mostly northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), but also quite a few slatey-backed gulls (Larus schistasagus) and crested auklets (Aethia cristatella ) whizzing around. There are also a few common murres (Uria aalge) and tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) mixed in, but not too many.
19 July, 2:30 pm.
Our fourth day on the water. We have fallen into a pretty mind-numbing routine of getting up for meals, then retreating to our bunks to pass the time. After napping and reading and maybe even working on a laptop, you check your watch to see how much longer to the next meal. Another 3 hours? OK. Maybe I'll take another nap. Only 30 minutes? Hmmm. Maybe I'd better get up and stretch my legs a bit on deck before eating.....
We still have pretty moderate seas, but is it sill rough enough that sea-sickness can sneak up on you pretty quickly. Today's routine was punctuated by a meeting of all the chiefs and sub-chiefs to discuss the latest version of "the plan," and it is a VERY complicated one! We will have 5 teams working simultaneously:
Seattle: July 9th, 7:30 pm
South Korea: July 10th, 11:30 am
I always love having new adventures. Well I realize that is what I am about to do. It is my dad's (Dr. John Ben Fitzhugh's) third trip to Russia and this time he is bringing my mom, my three-year old sister, and me. In Russia my dad helps lead an archaeology, geology, and ecology project in the Kuril Islands. So the idea is that we will be living on a boat and camping on islands, arriving [back] in Seattle the day before my middle school starts (about two months from now).
Right now we are testing how busy we can keep ourselves on this eleven hour plane ride. The nice thing is having your own personal television in the back of the seat in front of you. We will spend one week in civilization before zooming off on the...
8:00 am: Despite all the dire warnings of bad weather in the middle of the night, we had a completely uneventful start to our voyage last night. The "Six Ball" waves we were predicted to experience had laid down by the time we got out of Aniva Bay and we've had a very smooth start to our crossing. I suspect that at some point this summer we will have another opportunity to find out what this scaling system is all about.
But for now, I am quite content to have made it through the night without getting knocked around at all!
And now starts another round of waiting. It will take us about 4 days to make the crossing to Chirinkotan Island, which is where we are planning to place the first remote field camp. Last year we had an archaeology survey team visit the island, and they...
We boarded Iskatel IV today and are headed out into the Sea of Okhotsk. However, we are apparently heading into a storm that is supposed to have waves that are rated at Six Balls. The unsettling thing is that nobody can tell us how big that really is! It is apparently a Russian scaling system for rating how bad a storm, and the associated waves, might be. The only insight I've been able to get is that Six Balls will be "pretty rough" and that Nine Balls is unbearable. But I don't know if Six Balls is 5 meter waves (top of crest to bottom of trough), or if it is 10 meter waves. I just don't know. And not knowing is a bit unnerving! I've actually been in 10 meter waves before, and it was pretty nasty. But I actually have a worse time with sea sickness in waves 2-4 meters...
First, I'm happy to send some good news: all 3 of our pieces of missing baggage arrived safely! They even got here earlier than we expected via another airlines that was flying on Sunday!That means that we won't have to try to scramble to find suitable replacement gear for the things that were in those bags!
But it also means that we have that much less work that we have to do.....No big deal, though. People have seemed quite content to continue to read, eat, nap, and work on computing stuff. (see photo)
One of the ways we pass the time in the apartment in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Left to right: Erik Gjesfeld, Bre MacInnes, Andy Ritchie, Mike Etnier. (Photo by Douglas Querl)
The free time has also allowed us to go explore the bazaar downtown. Although it is not nearly as large as the...
Here is a sound that startled us when we were inventorying gear in the shed this past weekend. Bre MacInnes just barely brushed against a green duffle bag and something inside it made this noise.
What do you think it is?
Mystery Sound Video
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