GeoLog

field rucksack

What is in your field rucksack? Backpacking in the wilderness

When hiking to altitudes above 2000 m packing light is crucial! Credit: Alexa Van Eaton

When hiking to altitudes above 2000 m packing light is crucial! Credit: Alexa Van Eaton

Inspired by a post on Lifehacker on what your average geologist carries in their rucksack/backpack, we’ve put together a few blog posts showcasing what a range of our EGU members carry in their bags whilst in the field!

This bag belongs to: Alexa Van Eaton

Field Work location: Glacier Peak volcano, Washington, USA

Duration of field work: 12 days

What was the aim of the research?: Glacier Peak is an ice-clad stratovolcano in Washington State, USA. Even though it is the second most explosive volcano in the Cascade Range (behind Mount St. Helens), it is so remote that most people haven’t even heard of it. Unlike Mount St. Helens, Hood or Rainier, the volcano can’t be seen from any of the major cities in the Pacific Northwest. This summer, we spent 12 days backpacking through the Glacier Peak Wilderness area to investigate the volcano’s eruptive history.

Fuel is important during field work too! Credit: Alexa Van Eaton (click to enlarge)

Fuel is important during field work too! Credit: Alexa Van Eaton

One specific aim was to document the deposits from two large, explosive eruptions that occurred about 13.5 thousand years ago. These eruptions transported volcanic ash all the way out to the east coast of the USA, and likely beyond. But the detailed story of what really happened during those eruptions—and why they occurred in the first place—is best recorded in the thick deposits close to the volcano. Getting to these sites high on Glacier Peak meant backpacking to about 7,000 ft [over 2000 m ] elevation through dense forest.

Roughly half the time we would set up a base camp and coordinate day hikes for the mapping and stratigraphic work. Other times we would traverse with our gear to cover more ground. That made the backpack situation pretty crucial. During last year’s fieldwork my backpack was way too heavy (maybe ~40 pounds?), so this time I was committed to slimming it all down, without sacrificing the essentials (e.g., coffee and chocolate…). This year my base weight was ~8 pounds lighter, which made a huge difference.

The one item I couldn’t live without: Cold-weather down sleeping bag (rated to -16degC). A close runner-up would be my 1944 US Army entrenching shovel. It’s vintage and ridiculously heavy, but nothing does a better job of chopping climbing steps into steep tephra outcrops just when you need it.

USGS summer intern Kristin Beck enjoying the view of Glacier Peak volcano from 7,000 ft. elevation. Credit: Alexa Van Eaton

USGS summer intern Kristin Beck enjoying the view of Glacier Peak volcano from 7,000 ft. elevation. Credit: Alexa Van Eaton

 

If you’ve been on field work recently, or work in an industry that requires you to carry equipment, and would like the contents of your bag to feature on the blog, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact the EGU’s Communication Officer, Laura Roberts (networking@egu.eu)

What is in your field rucksack? Camping in Iceland

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When you head out into the field, which is the one item you can’t do without? For Rebecca Williams, a volcanologist at the University of Hull, good footwear is essential!

Inspired by a post on Lifehacker on what your average geologist carries in their rucksack/backpack, we’ve put together a few blog posts showcasing what a range of our EGU members carry in their bags whilst in the field!

Beautiful, eyrie, the land where fire meets ice: Iceland. An Earth scientist’ dream, complete with lava, volcanoes, earthquakes, impossible landscapes, ice, snow, the ocean…Iceland, is a top destination for many scientist who want to better understand the processes which shape our planet. Among them, Rebecca Williams, a volcanologist at the University of Hull, who spent a few days camping on the volcanic island this summer.

This bag belongs to: Rebecca Williams, University of Hull.

Field Work location: Þórsmörk, Iceland

Duration of field work: 10 days

What was the aim of the research?: I was working with Dave McGarvie and Jonathan Moles, from the Open University. They are working on a volcano in the area and had come across the Þórsmörk Ignimbrite. Ignimbrites are the deposits from pyroclastic density currents. This unit is quite complicated and not well understood. It is best exposed in Þórsmörk, so we spent 4 days here doing a recce of the exposure in the Þórsmörk area, trying to understand its many facies and their relationship to each other. I then spent the remainder of the time with a field assistant (Steph Walker from Royal Holloway) doing some detailed work on the best exposures, collecting some samples and recording the details of the deposit. We also recce’d some new areas to try to determine the extent of the deposit and finding new localities for future work.

The one item I couldn’t live without:

Footwear! We covered over 10 miles of rough ground and varied terrain each day, so good footwear is essential. I was very thankful for the trekking sandals when fording the rivers. One fording point is on the famous Laugavegur trekking from the hot springs area of Landmannalaugar to the glacial valley of Þórsmörk. We would often see people trying to ford the river in trainers, crocs and even bare feet! It was clear that this wasn’t ideal, and from some of the screeches, very difficult! But in these trekking sandals, I was able to wade over in relative ease and comfort.

Rebecca in the field. Credit: Rebecca Williams

Rebecca in the field. Credit: Rebecca Williams

In the picture of me in the field, you can see what I actually carry when I’m out and about. The zip off trousers were great for fording rivers – I wasn’t expecting it to be hot enough in Iceland to wear them to work! Strapped to my bag are my sandals for fording rivers, and my hammer. The poles were great for getting around on slopes like the one in the background, and for helping out when fording rivers. Here I’m also carrying a spade – acquired once in Iceland. This is unusual for me, I’m used to working with much harder rocks like the welded ignimbrites in Pantelleria. The spade was very useful for digging through scree slopes and material broken up and crushed by glaciers.

 

If you’ve been on field work recently, or work in an industry that requires you to carry equipment, and would like the contents of your bag to feature on the blog, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact the EGU’s Communication Officer, Laura Roberts (networking@egu.eu)

What is in your field rucksack? The bag of a mining geologist

What is in your field rucksack? The bag of a mining geologist

Inspired by a post on Lifehacker on what your average geologist carries in their rucksack/backpack, we’ve put together a few blog posts showcasing what a range of our EGU members carry in their bags whilst in the field!

Of course, it’s not only research geoscientists who carry kit! Earth scientists in industry often require a number of tools to carry out their daily duties. Today we feature the contents of Dave Perkin’s bag, a mining geologist working in a gold mine in Western Australia. In Dave’s bag, equipment to keep him safe in as he works in the depths of the Earth is almost as important as the tools he needs to fulfill his technical duties.

This bag belongs to:
Dave

Field Work location:
Underground gold mine, Western Australia

Duration of field work:
Continuous. I am employed full time to work at the mine as an Exploration Geologist.

What does your work entail?:
In order to keep producing gold the Exploration team must continually find new sources of gold to replenish what is mined. In order to do that we utilise diamond drill rigs and part of our job is managing these rigs to ensure we are drilling the most prospective areas. We also perform mapping in the underground environment – similar to surface mapping but in a much more confined space with limited exposure. In the average week we might spend a couple of days underground depending on what work needs to be done. Production geologists will spend ~6-7 hours per day underground performing their duties, such as mapping and sampling development faces and making ore/waste calls to ensure material is moved to the correct locations.

The main tasks for an exploration geologist is collating all the data available (diamond drill core logging, gold assays, underground mapping, etc.) and interpreting the mineralised domains to produce further exploration targets and mineable areas to produce gold. We will generally drill and interpret areas ~18 months before they are mined so we look at the big picture and long term goals.

The contents of Dave's field bag. Safety underground is paramount! That's why Dave's most treasured items include his safety equipment.

The contents of Dave’s field bag. Safety underground is paramount! That’s why Dave’s most treasured items include his safety equipment.

The one item I couldn’t live without:
As the mine is active we have to carry a lot of safety equipment and protective clothing. Reflective stripes on all clothes are essential as there is no natural light within the mine and this allows heavy machinery to see us when we are on foot. All personal protective equipment is required by law to be carried everywhere when underground. Two essentials are a cap lamp and hard hat (to see anything) and a self-rescuer (this is a self-contained emergency oxygen system which will provide oxygen in the event of a fire/other emergency and will last long enough to get to safety).

Aside from the legal things, the most essential item is probably spray paint. If time is limited then we will paint around interesting structures so that the surveyors can measure them and put them into 3D for interpretation. As a bare minimum, this will allow you to begin your interpretation.

If you’ve been on field work recently, or work in an industry that requires you to carry equipment, and would like the contents of your bag to feature on the blog, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact the EGU’s Communication Officer, Laura Roberts (networking@egu.eu)

What is in your field rucksack? A trip to Chilean Patagonia

What is in your field rucksack? A trip to  Chilean Patagonia

Inspired by a post on Lifehacker on what your average geologist carries in their rucksack/backpack, we’ve put together a few blog posts showcasing what a range of our EGU members carry in their bags whilst in the field!

Of course, fieldwork in Northern Europe vs. research in Australia is very different, think only of the weather! The same is true if you’ve been embarked on research in the Arctic vs. the Amazon, for instance.

The second bag we take a peek into belongs to Alejandro Dussaillant-Jones, a hydrologic engineer affiliated with the Centro de Investigacion en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia, who, for the past five years has been carrying out research about glacial lake outburst flood, hydrology and fluvial geomorphology in the Chilean Patagonia. Compared to that Zoe Mildon carried in her bag for field work in the Italian Alps, the contents of their bags sure looks different!

This bag belongs to: Alejandro Dussaillant, engineering hydrologist (CIEP, VATF Ltd.)

Field Work location: Baker & Colonia Rivers, NPI, Chilean Patagonia

Duration of field work: 2 weeks (years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

What was the aim of the research?: To study outburst floods from Lake Cachet II to the Colonia and Baker Rivers, with a particular focus on outburst wave impacts on catastrophic flooding, sediment erosion/deposition, and floodplain vegetation. Lake Cachet II is particularly interesting as it has a habit of draining very rapidly; sometimes just overnight!

The one item I couldn’t live without: UVF radios to keep in contact with team surveying, monitoring or boating with me!

Alejandro describes the contents of his bag as ‘minimal’ since he usually also has to carry surveying kit, flow meter(s), sensors, tree-corer, auger, sun hat, rain gear, sun lotion, anti-bug spray, sat-phone, etc… when carrying out fieldwork in the Chilean Patagonia.

If you’ve been on field work recently and would like the contents of your bag to feature on the blog, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact the EGU’s Communication Officer, Laura Roberts (networking@egu.eu)