This is my job?!

5 08 2008

Last Wednesday we went down to the southern part of the island to collect littoral cone deposits. My boss is collaborating with a University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor to prove the magmatic origin of these littoral cones. Essentially, there is a large amount of olivine in the deposits closer to the coastline. The lavas that have erupted near Mauna Loa’s summit are olivine-poor. There are different hypotheses about why this is, and we were sampling to test the different ideas. On with it, right?

Well, we off-roaded for about an hour after we left the highway. When we tumbled out of the truck, this is the view that greeted us.

Very, very nice. After a few minutes of wistful gazing, we headed off to find our littoral prey.

This section of the island has littoral cones all along the shoreline. They’re the distant hills in that picture. Here is a closer view.

We had to climb the cones, find likely samples, break them open with a rock hammer, see if they were glassy and non-stratified enough, and then fill a whole bag with similar samples. Essentially, I spent the day smashing rocks with a hammer. It’s really a fun activity!

Our lunch break afforded me the opportunity to take a few pictures. You need to click the last one to appreciate it fully.

To say the waves were stunning would be an understatement. Eating lunch on a beach while trying to scrape basalt chunks out from under my fingernails has to be one of the best ways to enjoy a sandwich I’ve ever attempted.

We collected samples from 6 littoral cones and then headed back to HVO. On the way we stopped by some petroglyphs and I was able to get a shot.

Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m a geologist. It’s incredibly hard work, but worth every second. I remind myself of that when I feel like whining about doing something difficult. Hard work does have its rewards, and that’s why I’m working my butt off here in paradise.