Archive for August 9th, 2014

Volcanoes, Mosquitoes, and Bears, Oh My!

August 9th, 2014

Guest Blogger: Sarah Frederick (’15)

After three weeks in Russia it sure feels great to be back on US soil! Since we didn’t have internet access during this expedition, our blog posts come a bit delayed. Here is a bit about our first week in Kamchatka: If, like me, you have never played the board game Risk, you likely have never heard of Kamchatka. So to give you some context of where we are, below is a map of the North Pacific. As you can see, this peninsula, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, is further east than Siberia and it is not far from Alaska. However, since flights between Alaska and Kamchatka are extremely limited, we were forced to fly the long way around. map

After our nearly 40hr journey, crossing 16 time zones, it was a relief to arrive in Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka.

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Above is a picture taken on top of an extinct volcano that overlooks the city. From L to R, Tatiana Kuderina (Senior Researcher at Moscow University), Sarah Frederick (’15), Vladimir Matskovsky (Researcher at Moscow University) and our lovely host Tatiana. This picture is an achievement, because as you will notice, it is the only picture in which all of the Russians are smiling!

eruption We were greeted in Kamchatka, the land of many mosquitoes, bears, and volcanoes, by scientists from the Volcanology Institute. And after a day of recovery we headed north into the great wild. While there have been no bear attacks, just three sitings so far, we were lucky enough to witness a small volcanic eruption during one of our expeditions!   Though described in the literature as ‘pristine’ and ‘untouched,’ over the past week we have found much of Kamchatka far from that with the forests along the single main road (unpaved dirt and gravel) having been clear cut. Even so, with a lot of help from our driver, Vasily, and his mighty passenger truck, we managed to locate old growth larch in the north. truck While our quest for trees has required us to spend extensive time in the swamps being devoured by millions of mosquitoes, we also made it to some of the more picturesque parts of Kamchatka as well. The highlight thus far was our trekup the Tolbachik volcanic complex where we were greeted by unseasonably clear weather. Not only could we see the majestic glacier topped volcanoes of the Eastern Range, but to the west, the towering volcanoes of the Median Range were also visible! tobal We are now heading south for our last few days of tree hunting. It is our hope that the tree ring data that we are collecting will help to connect the extensive network of tree ring chronologies developed for the Gulf of Alaska with those from the West Pacific. Helping to develop a better understanding of North Pacific climate.

Stuck in Girdwood

August 9th, 2014

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Kaitlin, Nick and Dr. Wiles.

GIRDWOOD, ALASKA – The College of Wooster Tree Ring team set off for Columbia Bay Glacier this past wednesday. After arriving in Anchorage with no troubles we drove down to Girdwood to hopefully catch a helicopter with a company called Alpine Air. Unfortunately for us the Alaskan weather had some other plans in mind. Due to a storm in the Prince Williams Sound area the rain and high winds made it impossible to fly to the glacier and forced us to be grounded in Girdwood. Thanks to the hospitallity of USGS glaciologist Shad O’Neel the College of Wooster Tree Ring team was able to stay in a condo owned by his family at the base of the local ski resort in town. The group is currently on standby waiting for any break in the weather to fly to Columbia Glacier.

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Devils Club along the trail in Girdwood.

The storm may have prevented us from traveling to Columbia via helicopter but it did not slow us down from collecting samples. Yesterday the group hiked up in the surrounding trails around Girdwood testing out our rain gear, exploring the beautiful Alaskan area and most importantly collecting some living tree ring samples. The group plans to travel to the intertidal later today to collect some samples from  the 1964 Great Alaskan Earthquake.

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Kaitlin extracting a core sample from a Mountain Hemlock in Girdwood.

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Girdwood, Alaska.