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January 9, 2008

Ethiopia, Round 2

I'm off to Ethiopia! Again. Feb 9-? My return flight is scheduled for Feb 21, but that may well change. I would like to explore the country a bit, especially since I am reading about it's history this time. Until then, I'll be doing science. Go go go!

I'm not sure how well I explained the project when I was on it in March, but here's the basic idea: There's a rift opening in the Earth's crust in northern Ethiopia. I'm working with a group to instrument either side of the rift to determine how fast (and how much) it's opening. This time, we're a part of a bigger endeavor--structural geologists (how things are layered and folded), seismologists (earthquakes), petrologists (rocks), and a group doing LiDAR, which is a laser. The laser will be fixed onto the bottom of a helicopter, and as the helicopter flies around the laser will 'ping' the ground--resulting in a very high resolution topo map of the rift. This 'image' can be used to see things we wouldn't be able to see with a photo, since a photo won't tell us elevations, and another survey down the road (timewise, of course) will show how things have changed. I'm, as usual, helping out with the GPS stuff. And the gravity stuff, which I forgot to mention. Measuring changes in gravity in the area (yep, we can do that) can show where solid rock vs. molten rock is, and also how thick the rock is.

I don't know much about how the project will work out, but sounds like we'll be camping! A base camp with big tents and a cook and a fuel cash for the helicopter. I've done this on ice before, but never on the dirt...!

Posted by beth at January 9, 2008 10:19 AM

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Beth, This really sounds exciting. Ethiopia is a facinating country. Looking forward to your adventure.


Posted by: Ed Penziner at January 10, 2008 6:19 PM


This is why I read your blog! All the details!
Would like to hear more about the rift! History and everything!


Posted by: Gary at January 10, 2008 8:15 PM

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