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January 12, 2008

Field Plan

Just figured I'd jot a few words on the field plan while I have a chance. Tim (Leeds) and Gezehegn (Addis Abeba University) and I are hoping to head out on Monday afternoon... which means no internet contact after that. Until then, Tim and I and whoever else is around (so far, there are two petrology (rock) students and some of the magnetotelluric (MT) crew should be arriving today) will be running errands. Tim and I are at the university now, and once I finish with this I'll be off to the storeroom to sort out the GPS equipment and tools that we already have here. We'll need to make a trip to the grocery store to get food--lots of dried fruit and nuts and such to supplement what will probably be an otherwise limited (read: monotonous) menu--and perhaps another trip to the Hilton to change money (and have an expensive drink by the pool), check into camping gear, and talk game plans. Hopefully we'll have a little time for R&R or cultural exposure (there are several museums that we'd like to check out--I'd love to get back to see Lucy in the national museum just across the way).

On Monday, the big task is to get the GPS equipment out of customs. The University (and when I say such, I mean Addis Abeba University) has written a letter and hopefully with that in hand things will go smoothly... but you never know. If we get the equipment in the morning, I will head with Tim and Gezehein in the afternoon. If not, I guess I get delayed. Hopefully I'll be able to go. We'll do the drive in two parts, staying somewhere along the way on Monday night. On Tuesday, we'll get the rest of the way to Semera, where I was based last time, and we'll meet with the Afari officials there and stay in the guest house. Unfortunately, I may not be in on the meetings with the officials (although I'd *like* to be--I'm curious to meet them and hear from them what they have to say about security and otherwise, see how a meeting like this goes) because I need to install a continuous GPS site in an out-of-the-way place called Saha, which I visited last trip. That should actually be the hardest thing I have to do (read: am responsible for) this trip. Getting it over with at the beginning!

After we finish up in Semera, we'll head up west of the rift to a town called DigDiga, a place I haven't yet been. This will be the site of our base camp from which we'll do the rest of the work. Tim and Gezehegn and I will be the first to arrive, so we'll maybe stay elsewhere until the magnetotelluric group gets in and establishes camp--they're the ones taking the lead on that, because they've done it before. I will start establishing benchmarks (markers in the ground) to be used for the gravity survey (but that also need to be surveyed with GPS) and servicing existing continuous GPS sites in the area (downloading data, changing the sample rate on select sites to be used for the LiDAR survey, upgrading to better solar panels and replacing batteries where needed). All these sites will be new to me, so it should be pretty interesting.

Then, the petrologists and magnetotelluricists (I made that word up) and structural geologists and gravitationalists (I made that word up too) and the helicopter crew and anyone else (all these crews come with trucks and drivers and we'll have a host of guides and guards) will show up and we'll get our camp on. Some groups will work out of base camp the whole time, some will be trekking. I may do some trekking with the gravity crew--this is yet to be determined. If I do, it will likely be with camels. Fun. Or, at least, interesting. Probably grueling when it comes down to it--dust and heat and difficult terrain--but interesting. Regardless, I'll get to see the rift from helicopter. This should be spectacular. The helicopter is supposed to arrive on the 26th.

Then, after installations and trekking and fixing broken things and breaking fixed things, the groups will head back in staggered fashion to Addis. I'm scheduled to be out for the duration of the project, which puts me back here on February 13. Subject to change, possibly, though. So, once I'm out of e-mail contact, I'll try to check in periodically with my folks on satellite phone or cell phone but no more blogging for a while. Sad. I'll try to keep a good journal so I can relay the adventures upon return.

As much as I could go on forever, I should probably get to that GPS equipment. I'll make it a goal, though, to summarize the goals of this project at some point so that you have more than strange vocabulary to go off. (I mean, everybody knows what magnetotellurics means, right?)

And if you didn't get enough parenthetical statements in all that, let me know. I'm sure I can come up with a few more somewhere.

Posted by beth at January 12, 2008 8:01 AM

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Enjoying keeping track of where you are, hearing about the events of your day. Hope all goes smoothly and you accomplish your tasks in good weather.

Posted by: Muriel Haupt at January 12, 2008 9:08 AM

what a great adventure you are on! may it be a safe one and one filled with great stories to share with all of us!

Posted by: wilma - mother of beth at January 12, 2008 4:54 PM


Do be careful!

I'll check the blog everyday to see when you will return to your blogging!

There is a word magnetotelluricists! A person who studies electromagnetic geophysical method of imaging structures below the earth's surface!

Petrologists is a person that studies geology that focuses on the study of rocks and the conditions on witch they form!

Gravitationalists! This one I am guessing about!
A person that studies in the science of physics that focuses on the effect of gravity waves on the earth's crust! Let me know if this one is correct!

Like I said before this is why I read your blog!

When I started reading your blog you were on an island near the Antarctic!

Hope everything goes well with this job!


Posted by: Gary at January 14, 2008 10:22 AM

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