Whirlwind of kGPS excitement.

9 07 2008

I spent yesterday in the office sorting and cataloguing last week’s Cl-36 samples for X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis. It was a quiet and non-eventful day, so that’s why I didn’t write a new post. Today I was supposed to go to the floor of Kilauea’s caldera and learn how to do kinematic (moving) Global Positioning System (GPS) surveys. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen due to a timing error when it came to dodging red tape.

In order to go into Kilauea’s caldera, you have to wear a respirator and hard hat. This is due to the extremely high level of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas that is issuing from the newest vent, Halema`uma`u. Because of the likelihood of lung damage from SO2 inhalation, the government requires that all new caldera researchers take a spirometer test. A record of your original, pre-caldera lung capacity is needed to compare against any possible future lung damage. I couldn’t get an appointment to visit the doctor in Hilo until Friday, so today’s caldera trip was cancelled.

The kinematic GPS (kGPS) tutorial was not, however. We visited several benchmarks outside of the caldera rim for training purposes. Here’s a geodetic survey benchmark, so you understand what we were looking for. These markers are small metal disks affixed firmly to the ground and their precise locations have been recorded before, sometimes many years ago. People who are into geocaching may be familiar with them already.

I required kGPS training because on Thursday I’m going to be part of a team that is being dropped off by helicopter on the eastern flank of Mauna Loa. Our mission is to hike down the `Ainapo Trail and record the benchmarks on the Mauna Loa level line. This will allow us to see if the volcano is deforming at all. Deformation can be a good indicator of volcanic activity beneath the earth’s surface. At any rate, the `Ainapo Trail is widely regarded as the most difficult hike in Hawai’i. Let’s just say that I’m pleased we’re carrying the equipment down and not up. We’ll be camping out somewhere on the trail on Thursday night, and we should return on Friday.

For now, here’s a picture of me with my kGPS from earlier today. That’s the summit of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano.

Fun for all.

I suppose I ought to mention that there was an active volcanic eruption occurring behind me.

Good times.

That’s just pretty cool.

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3 responses

9 07 2008
Mom

Never turn your back on the volcano…..

9 07 2008
kris

I’ve been reading about the eruptions in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. I watched a video of a 29-30ft fountain of lava, so cool. Please be careful Jess!

10 07 2008
Dad

This is pretty impressive honey, and neat photos. Be careful with the sulfur dioxide intake too.

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