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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kodiak and back (in time for the final!)

We are back in Anchorage after a wet sojourn to Kodiak!  We did have some great weather while we were there and were able to accomplish more than any other year!  Some great tree-coring, beach exploring, temperate rainforest hiking, cape tromping and fault mapping.  We are currently settled into the University of Alaska, Anchorage rooms and common hall for the final exam and wireless.  Here are photos from the past week as well as final thoughts from the students composed last night on the ferry.
Colleen Kennedy - Whew! It has been quite the journey these past few weeks, but I have to say I’m glad to have spent the end of it on the island of Kodiak. Although every time we get to a new place on this adventure, I say it is my favorite thus far- I think Kodiak is definitely up there. Although the weather was not too kind to us as we left, it was gorgeous nonetheless. It is crazy to think that we drove over nearly all the roads on the island! I really enjoyed the mapping project of Isthmus Bay. On the walk out to the isthmus itself (which is the connection between the coast and another smaller piece of land, or in this case rock), erosion had caused all sorts of caves and interesting geological features. The layers of rock, also known as mélange (in this case sandstone and shale), are characteristic of accretionary complexes. Since becoming a geology major, I have studied accretionary complexes for several classes and seen examples in many books- so being able to climb all over evidence of one was an awesome experience and one I’m sure I won’t forget.  Another part of Kodiak that was especially interesting was the hike around Narrow Cape. Like the accretionary complex, faults have been a focus of my geology studies and this trip. To actually jump (yes- I jumped… and fell) into the middle of a fault was possibly a once in a lifetime chance. Besides all the rocks, I will be missing Tent Eclogite (The Igloo) and the smores. Although I won’t be living on the edge anymore, I can’t wait to continue on to Denali next week before leaving The Great Land!

Kyra Burnett So during our last week in Alaska we visited the beautiful Kodiak Island and luckily we were able to receive clear, sunny weather for the first two days we were here. On the last two days however the weather was kind of miserable aka constant down pour 24/7, but that didn’t stop our awesome group! My favorite part of this trip was when we visited Isthmus Bay. Not only being a detective for the day was exciting, but when we actually came up with a testable hypothesis of why the distribution of sediments were the way they were presented to us, I felt like a real scientist!! Finding the evidence of the spruce trees which died in place (they looked like ghost trees) in a particular area.  In addition we found that the side of the river bank which was located more towards the ocean had a thicker layer of berm than the side of the bank which was farther way (almost by one meter) was a highlight on this part of the course. Thanks to the super friendly camp-ground host, I was able to enjoy delicious red salmon for the first time. There have been so many great times throughout this trip, and learning how to survive without things like pillows, indoor heating, and my own cd collection (not that I haven’t warmed up to country) became a valuable life lesson for me. Overall this has been such a wonderful opportunity and I would like to thank Jackie and Garver because without them this experience would never be possible.      

Sasha Rothenberg - We’ve spent the last week of the trip on the beautiful Kodiak Island, home to the famous Kodiak brown bear (which we never saw). The wet coastal climate makes for some pretty scenic bright green mountains and Kodiak’s location in terms of the subduction zone plate boundary makes it very interesting geologically. Our last hike of the trip was on Narrow Cape where we tried to interpret the different faults there and we learned first hand practice of scientific method: process of making hypothesis based on observations and then looking for evidence to support the hypothesis. On our hike we saw wild horses, a buffalo, and many fields of arctic lupine and other wildflowers. Towards the end of the day we found ourselves digging and hammering into rocks where we could find tons of mussel, snail, and oyster fossils from the Miocene era (over 15 million years old!). Hard to believe the trip is basically over, but at the same time we’ve packed a lot into the past three weeks and it has definitely been a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Mike DeLuca - The last few days on Kodiak Island have been amazing; when we arrived it was warm and sunny.  We did a mapping project in Isthmus Bay to study beach deposits and evidence of tsunamis.  By using the 1912 Katmai ash as a base point, we could see a post-1912 layer of tsunami sediment that was washed in by the power of the wave.  There were several other factors surrounding the area that indicated tsunami activity since 1912, including tree scarring and fields of dead trees due to saltwater deposits that were poorly drained.  We also got to see the Ghost Rock formation, which is a meta-sedimentary formation that has gone deep below the ground, been pushed together and then pushed back to the surface.  We also had a chance to see Surfer’s Beach and its faults, and the launch complex that was situated right on top of one!  It was amazing how subtle these major geologic forces were, often being a slight crack in a formation.  We have also been fishing after dinner for red (sockeye) salmon and Dolly Varden (a sea-run trout).  Being an avid fly-fisherman this was an unbelievable opportunity, and I was lucky enough to catch some of both.  Fishing is a huge part of the Alaskan heritage here, and it was a cultural experience being on the river alongside the natives.  They call it “combat fishing” here, standing side-by-side and yelling orders to each other as to where the fish are moving.  I found it amazing how they were so skilled at catching these salmon, a major food staple, and how they were so eager to help an obvious tourist like myself.  It has been an amazing past few weeks, and I am extremely thankful to my parents for this trip and the Professors’ guidance and vast knowledge in the area.
Gozzie Onyiuke - Hey hey from Kodiak! So this is the last blog…super weird. Time flies when you’re researching faults and evidence of uplift and subsidence eh? Anyway, this last week at Pasagshak was really awesome! First of all, the campground greeted us with a happy ray of sunshine and no annoying bugs! Can you say, BALLIN?! We were right on Pasagshak Bay and you can watch all the fisherman throw their lines out for fish…and then throw it back. Super entertaining. At Isthmus Bay, we did one of my favorite things to do as an up and coming environmental scientist. TREE CORING! We did a mapping project of the evidence that was in the soil, trees, and surrounding environment that pointed to the 1964 earthquake and tsunami. It is so cool that you can find out so many things about an area just by looking at the stuff around you. Trees can be so informative. After that we had a relaxing walk down the bay and we looked at the awesome “ghost rocks”. The G-Man got really excited about them but why wouldn’t he? They are some really cool rocks (about 55 million years old!) Only sad thing is that it started to rain and we had to eat at another campsite (the fire was roaring though!) After that, we went to Surfer’s Beach and we made our own stratographic column of the beach material there. It was so cool. The layers were so intact and each of them had a story of how they got there and why they were important. We got a little dirty that day but its part of the job right? Finally, we headed down to Narrow Cape where we did yet another mapping project but it was a little different this time. We mapped the active fault areas of the Kodiak Launch area. You are probably asking why the government built an incredibly expensive and high tech launch pad on active faults right? Shocking. Luckily active means that it has moved in the last 10,000 years so maybe they think they have time…Interesting…Anyway, we are on the ferry back to Homer and then to Anchorage for the (DUN DUN DUNNNN) exam! I can’t believe 3 weeks have come and gone. I will never forget the amazing times we’ve had and the stories we’ve shared. Anywho, I’m going to miss the great frontier and “mom and dad”. Thanks Jackie and the G Man for this amazing opportunity. Over and out people! PEACE!

Sam O'Connell - Howdy everybody! LOTE is coming to a close, and I must say that the trip has been a valuable experience that I won’t forget. Our last week in Alaska has been all about researching the evidence left behind from the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. Kodiak experienced a large tsunami as a result of the earthquake, and Isthmus Bay was a great place to see the deposits left by the tsunami. Seeing the dead spruce forest deep into the Bay was very exciting, as we saw exactly what kind of effect the saltwater had on the Sitka Spruce populations. Narrow Cape was also very exciting; I have never seen fault lines exaggerated like that! Debates on mapping the faults were intense, and the hike was spectacular. Because Alaska is so seismically active, it’s a great place to look at geologic processes that we learn about back at Union. We’ve experienced sunny, great weather until today, as the rain has been pouring non-stop. As we prepare to head home, I’ve realized how valuable of an experience camping in Alaska really is, and have grown because of it. A quick side note-Alaskan salmon is good eats!! Adios and sadly back to the lower 48 in a few days!

Nicole Reeger - Greetings everyone! I cannot believe this trip is almost over! We have spent the last week in Kodiak, Alaska. Before arriving in Kodiak we were warned that it rains most of the time but we lucked out with a few dry days, and on the rainy days we got cookies and muffins! Luckily no one had any encounters with the Kodiak grizzly bear but we had a great view of flying bald eagles from the picnic bench at our campsite. Our third mapping project at Isthmus Bay was pretty cool. We cored a lot of trees, which is always good for enhancing my upper body strength. We were surprised to see evidence of the 1964 earthquake from analyzing the tree rings in the area. Counting back from the bark of the tree, right after 1964 we was significant increase in the size of the tree rings, which may have indicated “release from suppression”. Yesterday’s final hike at Narrow Cape was a great way to end this trip. By the end of the day the weather cleared up and we all marched together through the Arctic Lupine. I have done so much in these past three weeks that I have never done before and I am so happy I had the opportunity to come on this trip!

Sarah Logan - Last report here from the Great White North! Cannot believe this trip is almost over! Although cliché I definitely think the best was saved for last! Arriving in Kodiak we were greeted with weather that was the farthest from normal here on the island. It was sunny and the skies were clear. Typically here it rains every day and the sun makes its rare but welcomed appearance according to the locals. Camp was beautiful located right next to the Pacific Ocean where a river ran straight behind our camp, the perfect place to fish as salmon made their spawning run. Day 2 brought even more beautiful weather and a trip to Isthmus Bay where we mapped the storm berm’s and cored trees to see if there was any evidence of the 1964 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Definitely one of my favorite spots of the trip! After a day 3 rain day, day 4 brought beautiful weather again! So off to Narrow Cape! We looked at the faults and tried to decide if there were listric faults or normal faults present. Scenery was amazing and what made it even more incredible was when a pair of wild horses emerged from the trees and ate the grass in a field of lupine. On the ferry back to Homer now and then a drive back to Anchorage for our last night in the state. So bittersweet to be leaving! Don’t want to go home quite yet but I would like some warm weather for the first time in a month! See all of you soo soon! XOXO Sarah

Lauren Graniero - Last blog until returning back east!  Since the last post, we spent some time wandering through Isthmus Bay, which was absolutely gorgeous.  We did a mapping project where we described different rock facies in the area, pooling our group observations in order to come up with our interpretations of the area.  We also discussed, in depth, the formation of an accretionary complex that results from the compression, or squeezing, of geologic formations.  Additionally, we wondered what would happen if the coastal berm were breached during the 1964 earthquake in Prince William Sound.  At Surfer’s Beach the stratigraphy was especially unique because two entirely different facies were represented within a few feet of each other.  The stratigraphic section we created helped us to create and debate a few different scenarios for what may have happened to account for the angular unconformity of the facies.  And take it from me, this group enjoys debates.  At Narrow Cape, not only was the beach beautiful, but also the multiple faults in the area created a truly awesome landscape full of lakes, swamps and cliffs.  Wandering through Kodiak today was another one of our great escapades in which I chatted with locals, ate at local hot spots, bought/made friendship bracelets, and drank coffee after coffee to keep my momentum going.  Despite the rough weather we had the past few days, I can honestly say I absolutely enjoyed our last days here, and that it is going to feel a little strange not waking up to these fine individuals everyday! Our adventure living on the EDGE in Alaska has exceeded my expectations and it was an opportunity I am glad I took advantage of! Thank you Jackie and John! Peace and love, xx Laur

Mike Sachs - Kodiak Island where the rain never ends.  This is a beautiful island were the mountains rise out of the ocean and the wildlife is plentiful.  The other day we went to the Kodiak Launch complex located on Narrow Cape. This cape is very active with normal faults running through it.  To the east is the Narrow Cape fault that is a dextral strike slip fault.  The launch pad for this site is located right on one of the normal faults.  This could be disastrous if this fault were to move.  We walked around the entire cape and found many cool fossils on Fossil Beach.  That night was our last night fishing on Kodiak and in the Pasagshak River.  After having a couple hook ups with some red salmon I finally landed my first Alaskan Red.  Seeing a Red break Garver’s rod in two places was something else.  Despite the broken rod he still landed the fish.  The trip is nearly over and the fishing done.  This has been a very enjoyable trip and I cannot wait to come back to Alaska.   Go Spain!!!

Zoe Blatt -  We spent our last week in Alaska exploring the impacts of the 1964 earthquake on Isthmus Bay and the subduction zone plate boundaries on the Island of Kodiak. Luckily, we had a couple of unusually beautiful days in Kodiak to make our field studies even more enjoyable! We spent Tuesday morning at Surfer’s Beach before we hiked along the coast of Isthmus Bay. We examined the stratigraphy of Surfer’s Beach and discovered there were major differences in such close proximity due to the movement of the strike-slip fault. Be sure to take a look at the great picture of the group standing above the Narrow Cape fault! As the trip comes to an end, I have been able to reflect on the past three weeks and the adventures we have experienced. I have learned an incredible amount about Alaska and natural geological hazards. It has truly been a pleasure to be a part of this journey with my fellow LOTE members and our phenomenal professors. This trip could not have been such a success without Professors Cockburn and Garver’s plethora of knowledge and sincere dedication.

More photos to come - look for a link in a few days - for now here are some group shots from the last week.
Finding fault with the landscape (they are standing on a fault)

Using our rain gear - this was just a light mist - the wind made it tough

John with a red salmon at Pasagshak

Pasagshak Campsite

Isthmus Bay Mapping

Ghost Rocks - Isthmus Point

Surfer's Beach

Narrow Cape View

Sunrise over Homer Spit from the ferry

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wild life and wild nights on the Copper River Delta

Hi All - Happy July 4th!
We are in Homer this afternoon to get groceries and get ready for the overnight ferry to Kodiak on the Tustemena - a large ocean-going ferry.  We hit some serious traffic this weekend - go figure the 4th of July is a big deal!?  We ended up skipping Seward, which was ok as it was raining there and we ended up on the western side of the Kenai Peninsula for a very dry and warm night before getting into Homer early this afternoon.  If you are keeping track - tonight is the second shower time of the trip.  We board Tustemena and it leaves at 10:30 this evening and arrive in Kodiak tomorrow around noon.  Here are some of the thoughts from the last couple of days and a few pictures of some of the wildlife (a bunch of moose yesterday and a baby bear the day before).

This has been an exciting leg of the trip that has been focused on looking at several aspects of eastern Prince William Sound, Cordova, and the Copper River Delta.  One distinctive aspect of this area is the dramatic impact that the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 had on the land surface.  The earthquake caused the surface to be uplifted here by about two meters, and this uplift had a dramatic effect on the rivers and the coastal marine areas.  So part of our work here has been to look at incision of the Alaganik River and to document evidence of the uplift of coastal environments.  The highlight for many has been Childs Glacier, an actively calving glacier that is in a struggle with the Copper River.

Sarah Logan
Hello from the water! We’re on our way to Whittier then off to Kodiak Island for the remainder of the trip. Can’t believe I’ll be home in about a week! So since the last blog a lot has happened! We stayed at a campsite next to Childs Glacier and all the time you could hear what was like loud thunder in the background as the glacier was calving. Definitely one of my favorite stops! Finally saw the bear we all have been looking for! From the safety of inside our car a black bear cub crossed the road and then walked along it for while. Seeing the salmon spawning in Cordova was impressive because they were bright red! On our last ferry ride we had porpoises swimming in the bow of the ferry so hopefully well get to see that again when we hit the water! Bald eagles up here are as common as crows at home. Amazing! Be home in just over a week. Can’t believe it! Until next time! XOXO Sarah

Gozzie Onyiuke
A big hello from the sea! Gozzie here and we are currently on our way to Whittier and later in the trip, we go to Kodiak! Weird how this week just totally flew by! We only have 9 days! I don’t know what to do with myself! Tons went down since the last blog. We camped up at Childs Glacier in Cordova and did another mapping project of the area. It was so much fun! Who knew hours could go by just by watching a glacier calve (break off) into the river? Giant chunks (one we named acorn) would fall into the river and just echo loudly throughout the campsite. Amazing! Then we would just veg out there and have s’mores and share interesting stories. I’m pretty sure people on this trip have no idea what goes on in my head…haha. Anyway, we left Childs and headed to McKinley Trail Cabin and spent two nights there. It was the size of my bedroom but it was fun to snuggle with everyone J Then we had time to walk around in town and check out the sites. We got to see the Red Salmon spawning in the water. IT was so cool but bittersweet because they were slowly decomposing and will die afterwards…awkward…
Everywhere I look on this ferry looks like it could be on a postcard! It’s so beautiful here. Until next time fellow readers… BALLIN’!

Mike Sachs
Hello from beautiful Cordova, Alaska a sleepy fishing village nestled in the Chugach Mountain Range with no road into or out of the town.  We had four great days here both on the water and at Childs Glacier.  The first day here I went out on a skiff with Professor Garver, Tyler Izyokowski and Colleen Kennedy to look at the Paleocene Orca Group that is intruded by 50 million year old granite rocks.  Samples of coarse sedimentary and granite rocks were taken to date.  We collected seven different samples of rocks from the Cordova, Prince William Sound area.  These rocks will be used in Tyler’s thesis and will also help further Professor Garver’s research on figuring out the exact time of uplift in the Chugach Mountain Range.  Within the rock samples Tyler will look at the zircon to date them.  This area of Alaska is still very wild with much geologic research to still be completed.  Wildlife was bountiful while out on the skiff.  Sea otters, seals, bald eagles and even king salmon feeding were spotted out on the water.  It will be interesting to see the age of the rocks collected once they are back in the lab.  On the ferry now to Whittier and the rest of the Kenai Peninsula.  Been to Whittier in the winter, but now it will be interesting to see what it is like in the summer time.  Also scored a free huge halibut filet in town yesterday.  It was delicious cooked on the campfire.  Hopefully better fishing awaits us on the Kenai Peninsula after getting skunked in Cordova.

Colleen Kennedy
Reaching the end of week two here in Alaska, and I must say it is definitely starting to feel more like “living on the edge” everyday! When we got into Cordova for the first night, Tent Igloo ended up solo on the last tent platform at the end of the trail (which was more of a mud slide at that point). Luckily, we made it through the night- although we didn’t sleep much and we still aren’t sure what was making all the noise in that forest! Our stay at Child’s Glacier was terrific, as promised. We could have spent the whole time sitting there, waiting for huge pieces of ice to calve off, except that it is pretty cold around glaciers. The canoe/kayak trip produced some new classics such as “Tree Coring’” (sung to the tune of Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty… and we’re TREE… tree coringggggg). The tree cores will be used to study the effects of the 1964 earthquake, which caused an uplift of 2 meters.  It was lovely to spend a day in downtown Cordova, and I’m almost positive we went to every local business…twice. Hoping to see some whales on the ferry ride over to Kodiak, and can’t wait to see what our last week has in store for us!

Lauren Graniero
After surviving my first two weeks living on the edge in Alaska, it is getting easier and easier to appreciate the almost entirely natural environment surrounding me.  I must say I will definitely miss the mountains and the exotic animals when I go home to my town and the squirrels.  The scariest experience I’ve had thus far is when Colleen and I, in the Igloo, were sleeping on a platform quite in the middle of the woods (thank you, boys) where we proceeded to hear some growls I was convinced were either airplanes or boats coming into harbor.   Needless to say Colleen and I did not get a good night sleep THAT night.  Kayaking the next day was utterly amazing, and we took lots of tree cores… still avoiding being bear food; a success in itself.  Cordova was a quaint little town where we made friends with locals, chilled in cafes and did a little shopping.  While regretting not purchasing some of the world famous fleece, some vintage Cordova tee’s were purchased promising to be real crowd pleasers in the Schenectady area. On the ferry now, hoping NOT to see whales like Coll (I’m a little fearful of those big guys) and hoping the rest of the trip is as much fun as spending the night in that cabin was last night. Talk about COZY! I can’t wait to spend another week with the wondrous people on this trip. Infinite x’s and o’s.  Bye Izzy.

Sasha Rothenberg
After a very early morning, we’re on the ferry ride to the Kenai Peninsula and then on to Kodiak Island. This week we got to visit our fourth glacier of the trip and probably the most exciting, Child’s Glacier. Our campground was just twenty feet from the Copper River and we could hear the thunder-like sounds the glacier makes as it breaks and falls 300 feet into the river all day and night. Watching the glacier calving into the river was pretty thrilling but nothing compared to climbing on it the next day. After making it through grizzly country safe, seeing nothing but giant footprints in the sand, we hiked up and had to very carefully pick our way through the maze of crevasses on the glacier. Some of the narrow paths had seemingly never ending falls on either side! Sea kayaking, on the other hand, was a much more relaxing kind of experience. The protected Orca Cove was easy to paddle around in and Nicole and I were basically experts by the end. We were looking for old barnacle lines two meters higher than today’s sea level that are evidence of the uplift from the 1964 earthquake. While searching, we made some adorable sea otter friends (might be my new favorite animal!) and we saw lots of seals and bald eagles. Can’t wait for shower number two tomorrow!

Mike DeLuca
In the last few days we’ve been to some amazing spots.  Childs glacier was unbelievable, there was so much ice falling into the river that it sounded like a thunderstorm. I woke up to one crash in the middle of the night that I thought was an earthquake.  We have been studying the effects of the 1964 earthquake by using ecological clues such as skeletal barnacles or tree rings.  Yesterday we went to Cordova, and I found it extremely interesting.  Everybody was extremely friendly and the town was heavily fishing-based, and it is pretty clear that they are still affected by the oil spill.  We went into a local art shop in our free time and were offered a huge halibut steak, which we brought to camp and cooked over the fire.

Kyra Burnett
Hey it’s Kyra here. So the last couple days have been pretty extreme, especially since we have been in bear country for real. We all spotted one the other day, but don’t worry everybody, we were all in the vans!! The other time a couple of us spotted one was on our awesome canoe trip down the Alaganik Slough. Exciting as at was, the tall grasses were literally the only barrier between us and the grizzly. Not only did we almost see a bear, but we also learned some really cool ways of how the 1964 Earthquake affected the land around us. Being able to spot the effects of the river’s incision on the trees around the banks of the river was quite interesting. I know a lot of people enjoyed the evidence we found of the interseismic subsidence in the river (especially Jackie), which contained a really thick amount of sticky clay and a top coating of peat. When we found the layer of peat, we had our evidence that the river must have turned into an intertidal mudflat. This whole day was definitely one of my favorite living on the edge experiences! By the way, thanks Mr. Logan for giving me Sox updates, I know my family won’t because they’re all rooting for the exact opposite team. 

Nicole Reeger
We left Cordova this morning and we are now on our second ferry ride. The day we went to Childs Glacier was the most frightening moment on the trip so far. Before getting on the glacier, we saw bear paw prints right on our path meaning a bear was way to close to where I was. When we made it on the glacier the view was absolutely beautiful with sights such as the Chugach Mountains, Million Dollar Bridge, and the Copper River. Maneuvering along the glacier was a little difficult because of the narrow paths and abundance of crevasses. We all made it back alive and successfully completed our second mapping project. At the end of the day we laid down and stared at the actively calving glacier and anxiously waited with our cameras for large chunks to fall off and to hear the loud noise that followed. A bunch of us have some good videos. I can’t wait for these adventures in the last week of Alaska.

Zoe Blatt
Greetings from Alaska! We spent the other day in Cordova. During the afternoon, most of us went Sea Kayaking in Orca Cove. I had the pleasure of kayaking with Mike DeLuca - luckily he steered while I took pictures of a bunch of sea otters and seals! Throughout the day we searched for evidence of the 1964 earthquake and the impact it  had on the topography. We were able to identify the 1-2 meter uplift by the presence of dead barnacles on high rocks. We finished the day with hot coco and coffee from Baja Taco, the local coffee shop, which was once a school bus. That night we pitched tents at Childs Glacier.  It was incredible to watch and listen to the glacier as it was actively calving. The sound of the massive chunks of ice falling into the Copper River echoed like thunder - we could hear it all night from our campground! Luckily tent "Schist" (Sasha, Nicole and I) are deep sleepers!

Our adventures in Alaska have far exceeded any of my expectations. I will be sure to savor our last week!

Sam O’Connell
Howdy from Alaska! We're well into the trip now and it has been nothing short of spectacular. I thought Matanuska was awesome, but Childs Glacier definitely beats it. Wow what a sight, as the glacier calves spontaneously into the fast-flowing Copper River, creating thunderous booms heard throughout the campsite. Tree-coring and kayaking in bear country was exhilarating, and we looked at some sweet peat deposits. We've jammed out to some country music in the van, and I'm starting to become a fan. Having a lot of fun, on our way to Kodiak now!

The moose that was in our campground last night at Johnson Lake - Kasilof, AK - July 3
Miles Glacier behind Million Dollar Bridge on the Copper River - June 30
Stop along Alaganik Slough - July 1

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pictures from Cordova and Orca Bay

A quick photo update and recap of the last few days.  We got into Cordova with a welcoming rain and as it turned out kind of a dark evening!  We spent our first full day in Cordova exploring Orca Bay and surrounding area.  Part of the group spent some time in Kayaks - by far more fun than canoes according the group (personally I think weather and a lack of any current factored heavily into that decision), while one part of the group spent time collecting some samples (sedimentary rocks and some granites) that will be analyzed in the lab at Union this fall (part of a LOTE 2009 alum's thesis work - Denise yes we did pick up Tyler!).   An update for the wildlife watchers - we did see a baby black bear this morning (from the van - best way to see it). 

Thanks for all your comments - they are a lot of fun to read - everyone loves them.
Mike DeLuca - on the look out for sea life while traversing the eastern side of Prince William Sound aboard the Aurora

Already for Orca Bay - Nicole and Sasha - June 29

Gozzie and Kyra - sea kayaking Orca Bay - June 29

Lauren - my kayaking partner and able sterner - Orca Bay - June 29

Zoe and Mike DeLuca - Orca Bay - June 29

Sasha (and Nicole in the bow) and Otters to the right - Orca Bay - June 29

Sam and Sarah - Otters in front - Orca Bay - June 29

Sarah and Sam - Orca Bay - June 29

Sam - Orca Bay - June 29

Sarah - Observation Island (where we had lunch on our sea-kayak day - she is just coming back from checking out the starfish) June 29

Zoe, Mike, Nicole and Sasha - sea kayaking - Orca Bay - June 29

John - manning the skiff that took Mike Sachs, Colleen and Tyler out of Orca Bay into Sheep Bay to collect samples for Tyler's thesis - June 29

Beginning of Childs Glacier hike - June 30 - Million Dollar Bridge in the background

Living On The Edge - 2010 group shot - June 30 - Childs Glacier

Checking out a moulin on Childs Glacier - June 30
Colleen and a crevasse on Childs Glacier - June 30

Mike Sachs and Tyler (2009 LOTE alum with us this week to collect some samples for his senior thesis research) - Kayaking through Alaganik Slough (July 1)

Alaganik River canoe/kayak trip - July 1 - Gozzie and me

Zoe, Nicole and Sasha - Alaganik River Canoe trip - July 1
Krya, Sarah, John - Alaganik Canoe - July 1

Mike Sachs and Noah (Cordova local and lucky fisherman) with a Red Salmon freshly caught - July 2

Monday, June 28, 2010

Central Alaska Range - Denali Fault and Tangle Lakes

We are in Valdez this afternoon for showers, laundry and a ferry to Cordova.  Over the last two nights the students have worked on their first blog entries for the trip.  Hope you enjoy their thoughts and all our pictures (sorry they are out of order we are in a huge rush and have a slow connection)!  We should be able to update the blog again in about a week!

Mike Sachs

Hi, my name is Mike Sachs from North Andover, MA.  I am a rising sophomore and a Geology Major. This was our ninth day in the wild Alaskan frontier and our last night at Tangle Lakes Campsite.  This wild guy Bob fell for Sarah and has been following us around.  The fishing has been excellent at Tangle Lakes with plenty of Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) to be caught in the rivers and lakes.  Today we took a canoe trip from Round Tangle Lake down into Long Tangle Lake.  This trip was to look at evidence of the old lake levels and glacial advances, which was part of our mapping project here.  So far the trip has been a lot of fun and cannot wait to get down to the coast and fish for salmon while we look at evidence of uplift from the 1964 earthquake.

Nicole Reeger
Hi, my name is Nicole Reeger and I am a rising junior, Biology major from Long Beach, NY. I was really excited for my first trip to Alaska and the first nine days have been incredible. On day one, my fellow LOTE members could probably tell I was not the most “outdoorsy” person on the trip and that my camping experience was nonexistent. I can definitely say that I am now capable of pitching a tent and keeping the campfire going (I’m really good and breaking sticks)! My favorite part of the trip so far was walking on Matanuska Glacier on the north side of the Chugach Mountains, and it was just a short walk from our first campsite. Our second glacier experience on Castner Glacier in the Central Alaska Range was very different from our first. Unlike Matanuska Glacier, Castner was covered in debris and rocks. At first I did not really think I was walking on a glacier. This is because a majority of the glacier was stagnant ice and no longer moving. We saw here that when the stagnant ice melted, the ground became unstable and failed. A formerly smooth terrain became hummocky moraine terrain. I am really looking forward to our next glacier adventure at Child’s glacier, which is actively calving! I am also looking forward to tomorrow’s shower!! 

Sarah Logan
Hello all! Sarah reporting from the last frontier! I’m a rising sophomore and biology major. Day nine in Alaska and so far the trip is amazing. Pretty shocking going from my comfortable bed to a tent and no showers! One example of a great day was the day on Matanuska Glacier. We woke up, made coffee and breakfast over the fire then hit the trails. We hiked over the ice on the glacier and found some hidden lakes and deep rivers that cut through the glacier. We sat to have lunch and then the day continued on the ice. Back to camp after many hours and it was time to make dinner over the fire. Dinner quickly followed by many, many s’mores. Dishes are cleaned and then its time to sit around the fire and tell funny stories. Last nights topic was ‘awkward high school stories’. Imagine where that one went…! I’m in the process of learning how to fly fish…that is also interesting! Well off to fish right now! Back to blog soon! XOXO Sarah 

Colleen Kennedy 
Hi, I’m a Geology Major from Rhode Island (2012). SO excited to be in Alaska! From the smallest state to the biggest!!! By far the highlight of the trip has been our walk on Matanuska Glacier, it was unreal to actually walk on all that ice. Other than that, I have to say my muscles are a little sore from our more recent activities. Lauren and I covered several miles of rough off-trail terrain during the mapping project, followed by a paddle-or-die trip the next day down Long Tangle Lake and Tangle River. I’m still hoping to wrestle a grizzly before we go, so hopefully I’ll find one on the next leg of the trip!  

Gozzie Onyiuke
Hey there! Gozzie here. I’m an incoming sophomore and an Environmental Science major and Music minor from Farmington Connecticut and just finished my first year at Union College. Coming from suburbia to the wild outdoors is quite the eye opening experience. One of the many adventures we embarked on was (as many have commented on) the Matanuska Glacier. Climbing on ice plus an uncoordinated girl usually isn’t a great combination but it was super exciting and the formation of all that ice is so interesting! Another experience we had was hiking up Gunny Sack Creek on many poorly sorted rocks and a rushing river. I’ve always been a climber and it’s always totally worth it to see the view from the top. Three moose sightings later and after a really long day of many mile hikes, it’s always nice to sit around the fire (that I usually make with my amazing pyro skills) and eat a hearty dinner and make multiple mouthwatering s’mores with some pretty entertaining people. I can’t wait to see what else Alaska has in store for us. Peace, love and Beatlemania!

Zoe Blatt 
Hey, my name is Zoe Blatt - I am a rising junior and Environmental Science Major from Newton, MA. As each day of our adventure in Alaska passes, I continue to be amazed at what I am capable of and look forward to the new adventures to come. So far, I have learned an incredible amount from our fieldwork. I have become very interested in the engineering of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. We spent an afternoon exploring the impact that the 2002 earthquake had on the pipeline as it crosses over the Denali Fault. It was evident to engineers that in order to be successful, they had to design the pipeline to withstand disturbances due to movement along the strike-slip fault. Afterward we headed to Tangle Lakes where we would spend three nights in the area. As a part of our first mapping project, Sasha, Nicole and I had the pleasure of canoeing together down the Round Tangle Lake to Long Tangle Lake (notice I said down). It was canoeing upstream that ended up being quite the adventure. The canoe trip in combination with mapping the previous day (see Sasha’s blog), we were able to evaluate previous lake levels in the area. The combination of our determination and perseverance lessened the obstacles at hand: the strong current, the lingering rain clouds and the black flies. I can’t wait to see what sea kayaking has in store for us!  

Kyra Burnett
Hi, I’m Kyra Burnett and I’m from Wilbraham Mass. I’m a rising sophomore at Union College and I plan on becoming a Biology major. Not only has this been my first time in Alaska, but also this has been my first time ever camping. As you can see, this experience has been a quite interesting one for me. Not only is learning geology challenging enough, but being able to manage your time and living outside 24/7 can become extremely overwhelming for a rookie camper. One of my favorite activities was when we hiked Amphitheater Mountains (south side of the Central Alaska Range) and we studied the different vegetation and sediment around our region. At the end of the day, we were able to create a facies map for the area, which ultimately outlined the dramatic changes in area over the last 5,000 years. Also, after my canoeing experience, I know I will definitely stick to cross country. I realized this when I was way better at dragging the boat upstream than I was at paddling. Most importantly, the group that is on this trip is absolutely awesome. I have had so many great experiences within the last week, and know that making s’mores every single day has been one of my favorites. However compared to shower day tomorrow, I know that those s’mores have serious competition!   

Sam O’Connell
My name is Sam O’Connell, I’m from Suffern, NY. I just finished my first year at Union and I’m still trying to figure out my science major. Alaska has been awesome, as the wild frontier has been an unbelievable sight to see. Beautiful sunsets behind the mountains have given me memories that I won’t forget. The mapping project yesterday here at Tangle Lakes was quite an experience, as we got to go out into the wild Alaskan bush to research and interpret the area. We got to some of the craziest terrain I’ve ever been in, to the point where my colleagues and I put on a music concert of artists anywhere from The Eagles to Miley Cyrus, in hopes of keeping the bears away. The Matanuska Glacier hike was truly spectacular; the hidden lake within the glacier’s melting zone seemed to be out of a postcard. Fly-fishing has been awesome; too bad I don’t have waders! A couple random notes-nights in tent ‘pumice’ are interesting, I make unbelievable chili, and Sachs’s lingo has gotten out of control by now. Peace. 

Sasha Rothenberg
Hey, my name is Sasha Rothenberg and I’m a rising junior, Environmental Science major from Moretown, VT. Just from landing in Anchorage the grand scale of the landscape is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Every turn looks like a postcard, and the difference between learning geology in the classroom and actually going out to study them in person has never been more clear. This hit me on our first hike on Matanuska Glacier. I’ve learned a lot about glaciers in the classroom between geology and climatology classes, but actually standing on one really let me appreciate their enormity. We hiked for an entire day around the glacier and later that night looking at a map I realized we barely touched the tip of the massive ice flow. Not to mention nearly every landscape we look at and learn about has been shaped by glaciations. The mapping project we did at Tangle Lakes was more of a two-sided experience. Zoe, Nicole, and I set out on our own to what we though would be a peaceful hillside area of the map with a small forest at the edge (imagine Maria in The Sound of Music). Little did we know from the aerial photograph we were given that this area was one giant thickly vegetated swamp. Jackie picked us up on the road five hours later with soaking wet hiking boots, covered in mosquito bites, and completely exhausted, but also with a huge sense of completion and satisfaction. Our determined hiking and geological fieldwork ended up leading to new important conclusions about the history of the Tangle Lake area. I’m really looking forward to sea kayaking and seeing marine life in Orca Bay on Tuesday. 

Mike DeLuca
My name is Mike DeLuca from HoHoKus, NJ and I am a geology major.  Yesterday we mapped the surrounding terrain and tried to piece together what the geologic processes were back thousands of years ago.  We hiked through some of the thickest terrain I have ever seen, even though we are in the tundra.  Our route for the day for our mapping project took us to places way off of the beaten path.  For our project here, we reported on the ecology and sediment of the area, and then presented our findings to the other groups.  I thought this was an interesting project because it was the first geologic project I have done without the help of a professor.  Finally, I would note that fish are everywhere.

Lauren Graniero
Hey, I am an Environmental Science major from Upstate New York, and I am really excited to be in Alaska for the first time! My favorite glacier so far was the Matanuska, which was seriously the coolest and most beautiful thing I have ever seen… except for all those nooks and cranny’s I nearly fell into! The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was also extremely interesting to visit because it was built on top of tons of highly active and dangerous terrain.  The engineering was totally impressive, but it seems out of place given the gorgeous Alaskan landscape.  Canoeing with Sam today was GREAT! Except paddling upstream was a little rough. I had 6 inches of water in my boots.  Signing off for now—I hope to report back on serious bear spotting. Until next time!

Group in Anchorage - with Balto
Lauren, Sam, Zoe, Nicole and Sasha - going down stream

Colleen and Nicole at Gunny Sack Creek

Mike DeLuca and a Greyling at Upper Tangle Lake

Mike DeLuca - tree-coring along the Denali Fault

Group looking at trees affected by the 2002 earthquake along the Denali Fault

Group on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Group at Gunny Sack Creek

John and Gozzie fighting the current and the wind!

Kyra and Gozzie and the Delta River
Kyra at Matanuska

Lauren at Matanuska

John and Mike Deluca - Matanuska

Mike DeLuca and Sarah - Tangle Lakes

Gozzie - Tangle Lakes

Nicole - Tangle Lakes

Gozzie, Kyra and Sarah - Delta River

Kyra - cross-country canoeing - new sport (my up-river paddle partner)

More Matanuska group shots (Zoe is in the background - ahah! I have a picture of you!)

Mike Sachs - Tangle Lakes

Sam - Gunny Sack Creek (possibly JG's arm on the right)

Sasha at Gunny Sack

Group at a Tangle Lakes overlook

Zoe, Nicole and Sasha - canoeing the easy way - downstream
The guys working on their Tangle Lakes mapping projects