Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Trench

I went to Kaipoi today to look at the trench trough earthquake liquefaction strctures. One of the PhD students is studying them. Here are some pics. We spent a long time looking at the layers of sediment, trying to figure out the history of events recorded. 

The grey vertical things are called dikes; they fed the material to the surface from down below.
Note the rusty colored ones (most easily seen on lower left); They are probably from an 'ancient' earthquake
more of same
Doming of overlying sediment by ancient earthquake - the grey stuff didn't 'rise' enough to
reach the surface
Even more of the same :) 
sarah cleaning the surface / looking to see what happens to certain
layers in three dimensions
Yet even more of same :)
A close up of feeder dike
yet another close-up ....

The street next to the park where the trench is. Note
how irregular (and patched-up) the surface is - this is a consequence
of the liquefaction and below-srface disruption - all the silt and sand has been
removed from the surface because it was a big air pollution hazard.

House across the road from the trench. Boarded up - This is a red-zone area.

Road near park.


Spent all yesterday toiling away on four pages of text, only to realize as I was going to sleep last night that four pages could be condensed into two sentences. So, I just deleted (but saved elsewhere!) the four pages, and wrote the two sentences.

I am off shortly to go look at a trench dug to examine liquefaction features related to the Canterbury Earthquakes. Exciting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


And I'm not talking about people in the northern hemisphere. I've been working on my fan delta paper, and trying to make sense of some sedimentological / stratigraphic problems that I had kind of avoided dealing with in my actual PhD. I had a big Ahhh-Haaa moment today when I realized that I had presented one of my measured sections upside-down. I had measured it going uphill through the bluffs, and forgot to show it going from the top to the bottom (if that makes sense to you). Anyway, once I realized that, I was (a) quite mortified, (b) surprised that no-one amongst my examiners had picked it up, and (c) pleasantly surprised to find that I am now able to make a nice tidy story out of it once I integrate it with the other measured sections. I still have TONS of work to do catching up on new work / reminding myself of what I once knew, but I'm on a roll ... yipee! That means fewer posts.

In other work news I am putting together a multi-authored 'white paper' on the Takaka Terrane for the GeoPRISMS (big NSF project) meeting that will be held in Wellington  in April. I forgot to apply to participate (applications were due just before Xmas, it dropped off my radar), but I will at least get my piece 'heard', even if I am not there. It was due today, deadline extended until Monday, which is a good thing. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow.

Now I'm going to go and read about Chavez, or maybe I should say about Venezuela without Chavez.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fork Handles

I spent 4 days in Wellington - two of them meeting with a colleague who works on the Paleozoic at GNS (Geologic and Nuclear Sciences - read 'Geological Survey'), and two with extended family and friends. My time at GNS was really productive. I now know more background to some of the papers that have been published over the past 20 years, and it is much easier to proceed with my work. It was also fun realizing quite how many people at GNS I know - I kept running in to people - quite a few of them were colleagues when I was involved with Andrill.

First though, is the reason I love the ads here:
Ad. seen in Wellington Airport
There was also the jumping / diving platform on the Wellington Promenade:

Jumping Platform (I failed to get footage of the
20-30 people that were jumping into the
harbour - some with significant splashes
Warning. Ignored.

I love Wellington, not just because of it's Middle Earth connections ...
View out my plane window upon arrival
Gollum fishing in the Domestic Terminal

But also because the harbour and surrounding hills are so accessible ....

View from Friends house
View from top of Kaukau (peak /hill overlooking Wgtn.
I walked up from downtown
View of Wgtn. from top of Kaukau

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gas & Fractures (aka Snakes & Ladders)

Went into the CBD (Central Business District) in Christchurch today to take a look and see how things are going. Lots more empty space - many more buildings demolished than when I was here in November, and I got thoroughly lost in the one-way system. But the creative spirt still shines through. Today I discovered this game in the Re:Start Mall (The 'container' shopping area in the CBD). Now I have to go fill out my NZ Census form - turn out that I am here when they do the Census, and I am counted. Two forms, a dwelling form and an individual form. Then I need to work on taxes for the US. Ugghh. I also have to get ready for my trip up to Wellington next week - I will be going up there to see one of my colleagues and try to figure out how the new map and stratigraphy meshes with the work I did, and my interpretations. I have to get organized for that - and try to get the text of the fan delta and the tectonics/melange papers done.

Rules of the Game
Board and Dice
The Fracking Wheel

Friday, February 22, 2013

(small) Earthquake

For my friends in the Midwest:
I just felt the my first definite Earthquake here. I was lying down reading and there was this whole jolt to the house and the windows rattled. Kind of like the feeling one has when one is in a train car and they are adding another carriage.

Of course I jumped online to find out more ... it was 3.9 on the Richter Scale, and the epicenter was about 19 km away (another source put it just above 4 on the Richter scale) and III on the Mercalli Scale. It originated at about 7.7 km depth. Here are all the details:


I was actually woken up last night by a very small one too (around 2.5 I think) just before 3 am- at first I thought it was someone breaking in - then I realized that the window had just shaken ( old windows, rattly catches).

Today was the 'anniversary' (I put it in quotes because I usually think of that word in a happy context) of the Feb 22 Earthquake in Christchurch, with tragic loss of life and devastation of the city center. There was a memorial service on campus just round the corner from the geology building - as well as many others throughout the city.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mount Cook and Christchurch - finally!

My academic interest in going to Christchurch via mt. Cook was so I could see the terraces and the moraines. I wanted good pictures to use for teaching (at least that was my excuse).

View of Mt. Cook from the SW side of  Lake Pukaki.
Face on the other side of the Lake is 'decorated' with terraces.
I need to learn more about their history.
I walked up the Hooker Valley across / around a variety of moraines and pro-glacial lakes. 

View to the front of the Mueller Glacier (covered in debris)
and the sedimentary debris mantling the valley side. Water is
yellow grey-green because there is so much clay and silt in it.
The lake in front of the Hooker  Glacier. I particularly like
the story that can be deciphered about the relative age of
events from the terraces and scree slopes across the valley.
Yes, that is another funky cloud in the upper left. 
One of three 'swing bridges' en route up the Hooker
Now I am going through the process of getting keys, photo ID, building access, library access and computer access at Canterbury - but I still have computer access at home, so I have excuse but to read some articles that I have to read before I can write any more of the fan-delta paper. I have my mandatory earthquake safety training tomorrow.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Earthquake Link

This is a link so you can find out what is happening in regard to any earthquakes in the Canterbury area
I didn't feel any of the ~ magnitude 2.0 ones that have taken place since I got here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Both sides now ....

My meteorology colleagues often talk about how some students expect (incorrectly) meteorology to just be about the naming of clouds. Well, I don't care about names, I am just quite impressed with how the sky changed from ~2pm through the afternoon ... from an overcast start to ...
About 2pm - Waitaki Valley
About 5 pm - Twizel
Add caption

About 5:05 pm Twizel

About 5:10 pm; Twizel - looking another direction
about 5:30 pm; Twizel

Dunedin to Mt. Cook

I'm way behind on things. I managed to complete most of the essential tasks in Dunedin, but there are some things I will need to go back and do. BUT managed an unflustered exit, complete with the requisite spread at morning tea (my friend Sue made scones, I brought cream and jam). First stop as I headed north was Moeraki Boulders. For the geologists amongst you, they are concretions, specifically, septarian concretions. But they could be markers for a martian landing spot (as someone once tried to convince me).

Moeraki Boulders. Approx 1 meter in diameter.
More of same.
Then it was on to Oamaru, where I spent some time poking around in the Historic District - Amazing place - I'd never been there in all my years of driving north through Oamaru to do fieldwork in NW Nelson.

Steampunk is a whole creative/art genre that I still don't quite understand.
Many of its practitioners dress in punk victorian fashion it seems (for
events at least), and make stuff out of discarded victoriana. Google it - I haven't. 
Working letter press / printing press in the Historic Area.
Limestone - the maori cave paintings  are done beneath overhangs in it.

The red (ochre) is / are the cave paintings
Then it was up the Waitaki Valley through all the hydro-power schemes/lakes.

A map. Yes, north is up in the southern hemisphere too.
The Waitaki Dam
Getting closer to Twizel
Honoring the rare and endangered Black Stilts - in the Twizel
Shopping area.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A New Home! And Data Suppositories ...

Arrived in Christchurch yesterday. There was a name on the door of my office, and a named mailbox - and forms to fill out so I can have Library access (electronic journals etc.). I did pay more than usual care as I filled out the emergency information, given the earthquake situation. I learned from the tech. guy in the Geology  Dept. that New Zealand has two (yes, that is TWO) cables linking it to the rest of the world. One (the main one) goes on the seafloor via Hawaii, and the other (which is just a backup) goes via Australia. No wonder there are bandwidth 'issues' and the cost of online access is expensive.

Vegetable garden. Note ripe tomatoes.
My new home is a small 'cottage' about 20-30 mins walk to the University. There are grocery shops on the way. I have a vegetable garden full of ripe or ripening vegetables.

View towards gate from same spot as before
The house is surrounded by a high picket fence.
There is no 'view' at all. There are no hills (other than the Port Hills), which makes a change from Dunedin.

View 90 degrees to left from previous pic.
 I need to re-wash the towel 
There is also a small patio. Only downside is the birdsnest right above it. There is also a stray somewhat mangy calico cat that has been getting fed by the owner.

Inside - the kitchen/dining end.

Inside there is a living/dining/kitchen area, bedroom, and bathroom.

Definitely a big step up from my Dickensian Garret in Dunedin.

In the Department I have got a large screen on my desk that I can plug my computer into, so I have no excuse for getting the next round of drafting done .. and the writing. I also have a big map table in my office, so I have spread my maps out, which is just wonderful, I can use them as I write.

Highlight of the day? They have (like Otago) morning and afternoon tea; everyone sits down with a mug of tea or coffee and chats. One of the profs (volcanologist/volcanic hazards, Jim Cole) was reading a PhD thesis, and he found a typo. Instead of a Data Repository [for those that are not familiar - a place online where extra or raw data are stored and can be accessed by interested scientists], the writer had written 'Data Suppository'. The tea-time conversation went rapidly downhill after that, but everyone had a very good laugh, and lots of speculation as to what it would look like....or how it would be used.

I'll spend the weekend exploring (getting lost in) Christchurch, and getting up-to-speed on fan deltas.

Sign at Maori Cave paintings near Duntroon
en route (sort of) to Christchurch

The second part of the sign. Unfortunately I can't predict
 earthquakes other than in a vague and general way.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

En Route to Christchurch

I'm leaving Dunedin tomorrow and heading north to Christchurch via Mt. Cook. Hopefully my "trusty steed" (old car) will keep on doing its thing without complaint. I'll get to Christchurch on Thursday 14th, so unless I find some free wifi before then, that is when you'll hear from me. I had hoped to get the sedimentology mss. text done before leaving Dunedin, but that didn't happen. Then there will be TONS of tricky figures ...hopefully they will go more quickly now that I have purchased an up-to-date version of Illustrator (CS-6).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Too much to read!

I have 20 years of research on Fan-Deltas to catch up on so I can make my paper relevant to the new and evolving ideas (the data are always the same, it is just a matter of how I frame it). I have found someone (a sedimentologist) who will read my manuscript in draft form to tell me if I am missing key concepts or points, so that is good. Now I have to get it done. I just did a reference database search, and came up with ~75,000 references that have something to do with fan-deltas. Uggh.  I mustn't get overwhelmed (my mantra). I need to narrow the search so I can make headway. It is beautiful outside and the temptation to give up and go for a walk is *almost* overpowering ... In case you are wondering, it has been (mostly) shorts weather, and I got sunburnt last weekend. Also got very bitten by sandflies (think: a biting midge - they have a bite like a mosquito, but are tiny).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Drive Safely

Or, Drive Safely!! Note water on lens.
Truth in advertising .. this is where we put in. This is clean and
natural New Zealand :)
My final tourist adventure was kayaking on Milford Sound. Then back to Dunedin, where I am now trying to work on my Lockett Conglomerate Sedimentology paper. I worked through 20 years of references today, picking the ones I need to read ......

What a treat Milford was .... we had very un-Milford-like weather (i.e. no rain), and it was still 'warm'. It was hard work (my arms are still sore), but lots of fun. We had to deal with wakes from the tourist boats, which I loved - got very wet - glad my camera was in the 'dry bag.' We saw a fiordland crested penguin, which was trying to be miserable and moult in privacy. The we paddled across the sound into whitecaps generated by the adiabatic (??) winds that come onshore (up-sound) in the afternoon - that was really hard work. The next part was a real blast - we used a tent fly as a sail, and with three kayaks held together, we 'sailed' (quite fast at times) all the way back to the Arthur River (near where the Milford Track ends). I didn't take any pictures at all, because I didn't want my camera to get damaged (salt water), which means I just enjoyed everything.

View looking NW, on the east side of Homer Tunnel which
goes over to Milford Sound. Single lane tunnel, no
lining, and lights change every 15 mins approx. They are
worried about danger from falling rocks, so are in the
process of extending the portal on the west side. There is
apparently a full-time spotter, keeping an eye out for falling blocks.
The tunnel / road closes at 7 pm each night.

East portal of the Homer Tunnel

View SW (?) towards the Earl Mtns, as we head back to Te Anau.
This is a place called ... Mirror Lakes
Read for yourself

These are the New Zealand Bands that we listened to music from
 in the van. I asked for a list of them.

Then the weather changed.

After a while it changed to intermittent squalls