22 May 2009

Field Season...

It's been a busy month...

One of my favorite places on earth, the Book Cliffs from the Beckwith Plataeu
Flew out to Utah at the end of April and joined a Nautilus field course to the Book Cliffs, the idea was that I would contribute and see what they did with a view to running it. This was attractive from my side because I haven't been on a course or trip since 2002 that I wasn't running - you learn more when you are not talking! Turned out to be an interesting experience for a variety or reasons. Firstly it was an excellent course with two good guys running it. I had seen most of the outcrops before but a new perspective is always good. It was also very interesting to be on a trip which was mainly English speaking. Made me realise how much I had been missing out on during the last 6 years when I normally just tune out. The trip started in Grand Junction and then headed to Green River, followed by Moab. Had a couple of good nights in the Rio including some fairly random karaoke.
Nautilus folk in the field describe Coal Canyon
From there I drove to GJ and then flew to Salt Lake and meet up with Tore. We drove down to Price and spent a couple of days in the field. He's really keen and it was great spending time in the field with him. We traced the Lower Ferron unit from the subsurface into the outcrop and realised that the existing lithostrat is a pile of poo! Not bad for your first three days in the field.
A moody sky above the Lower Ferron

Drove back to Salt Lake and meet up with the UiB fieldtrip. Big contrast to the previous trip in that it was largely in Norwegian and that it was comprised primarily of blonde girls. You win some you lose some! I only stayed with the trip for a few days but it was fun, nice bunch of students and they worked hard - at least while I was there.

A field trip or a Miss Norway contest?

Left them to meet Simon and Toby back in Green River and we went scanning with the HyperSpectral Scanner. This is a new technique that we have been pioneering. We have had it working in Spain and now wanted to collect some more datesets. We collected a shed load of data from a variety of spots around Price Green River and Moab. Met up with the field course and finished the oil game for them. The oil game started as a geology exercise with the students in teams trying to find oil in a certain area. Despite being fairly simple it produces some very realistic and competitive scenario's. Ironically, it was supposed to be about geology but the commercial aspects have taken over. Depressingly like real life!

Take one scanner into the field? Not us!

After that I headed back into the field with Andreas (new PhD) Siri and an Iranian girl called Rozita. We spent a couple of days scanning shoreface systems for Rozita and logging sections with Andreas and Siri, including a long day high up in Woodside Canyon which involved crossing a 50 degree scree slope with a 100m drop - Hmm safety in the field? I must be getting old because this stuff never bothered me before. Good times even if Rozitas lack of English and lack of geology were a bit of a challenge.

The World famous Ray's Tavern in Green River
Always good to be in the field in Utah. Nice to catch up with all the people in Price and Green River, many of whom remember me from one year to the next. Moab is a fun town but less personal as there are some many visitors each year. We spent a lot of time in Rays Tavern which is always full of geologists, caught up with a lot of people I haven't seen for a while. We also took breakfast everyday in the Green River Coffee Shop which is a converted gas station serving excellent coffee to aging hippies and river rats.

A rather fearless antelop (not Elk! - thanks Roy) looks on while Toby tries to explain to Siri why he is scanning his suitcase

After a week of ground based work the helimap guys from Switzerland turned up and the logistics got complicated. Co-ordinating 5 students, helimap, a chopper and fuel truck, the weather, optimal light on the cliffs, GPS coverage, places to land and take off and, myself is a challenge. Resorted to the trusty "MS paper-napkin" and sorted the whole think out over breakfast in Ricardo's diner.

A helicopter, fuel truck and Simon with the Book Cliffs in the background

Despite my detailed planning (or lack of) everything went well. riding the helicopter was just amazing, not much else to say really - it was fantastic to fly over the Book Cliffs. The pilot was awesome and Julian and Sam worked like crazy to make the system work. Haven't seen the final result yet but the initial ones look amazing.

The Cliffs look different from up here

Bagged a lift in the copter back to SLC - fantastic flight back across the Wasatch Mountains into the Salt Lake Valley. Then spent a couple of days at the core store with Tore finishing up with the project it had all started with. Flying home tomorrow.

The trip in numbers...
2000 miles driven - getting very bored of driving Green River to Price
36 Days worked straight
18 Days in the field
15 The number of years since I first came to Utah
14 Nights in Rays Tavern, Green River
10 Days teaching
9 Hyper spectral data sets collected
7 Cars rented - with zero incidents (that is a first!)
6 New lidar datasets
5 Research students supervised
4 Sessions spent guiding the heli mapping
3 different helidar datasets
2 Field trips ran
1 Very expensive road bike purchased
0 Days off! When work is this much fun who needs holiday?

Back to Bergen Tomorrow - looking forward to getting back for summer in Norway


Ivar said...

well done John! Take an afternoon off when you get back. :)

Anonymous said...

Trip in numbers:
7 cars rented, two incidents: In addition to the crack in my front window, I'd like to add a flat tire in the middle of nowhere! Karma is a bitch...