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A tale of two field days and a looooong hike

Hello again! After a couple of days of just running around the field this blog is now official overdue! Oh dear. So to make up for it I’ll present you with not one, not two, but three field reports.

8/8 So. Interesting day today. After a last minute suggestion by Hanne that across the water there are good solifluction sites we scrambled a lift on a boat and an opportunity to cross the water. I had checked the maps and found that the Malardalen braided stream could be a really good site for water sampling so I decided to split off from the group briefly to get that done. Cue more paperwork to get an extra rifle, flare gun, survival suits, wellies, first aid kit…. the list goes on. But by some small miracle by 10am we were on our way to the harbour. A quick change into survival suits and a lot of hoisting equipment later we landed on foreign shores:

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View of Isfjorden from the Hiorthamn area

And off we went, through valleys, across streams and into the yonder.

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At Malardalen I went upstream to look for a suitable sampling site. And oh boy did I find one!

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So now it is time to set up the outdoor lab – also known as the pH, thermo, and TDS sample equipment. And then, tadaa, we have samples! These samples are now in the laboratory, slowly filtering away and getting ready for transport.

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That basically was the end of the day as we had the 2 hour hike back ahead of us to get to the shore in time for pick up. Because the water is so cold here (about 3C) we have to wear survival suits in case we fall overboard during transport. It buys you an extra 20 mins or so in the water before hypothermia sets in, giving the people on the boat enough time to fish you out. It’s also quite nice to be rolled up in while sailing across the fjord as the winds are pretty icy there!

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9/8 It’s hiking time!

Today was all about setting up the weathering monitoring stations. Yes, it was a big day for me! There have been quite a lot of problems finding suitable sites, all the slopes are covered in scree and I need exposed bedrock to hammer my samples in to. After a lot of staring at the exposed bedrock and thinking of ways to get there (see field day 1 for the first failed attempt) it was time to do things a little differently; hike to the top of the plateau and find bedrock sites near the edge that are accessible. I now have 2 sites, a 4,5 hour hike from UNIS. And 4,5 hours back again. We had a wonderful sunny day and set off early to enjoy the day. Without the laser scanner, water analysis kit or ERT we had a surprisingly light load to carry (only about 10kg each) so this was entirely doable. The first section offered a really lovely view of Longyearbyen and Isfjorden.

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Then after a manic scramble along scree slopes and going up a steep ravine you get to the plateau. And this greets you:

 

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Yes, that’s right, an awkwardly posing Dutch lady!

The views from up there are spectacular, especially on a sunny day you’ll never see anything like it. But we had a mission; find field sites! Initially things did not look good. Not at all. There was only scree, scree, some block fields, some more scree and then VERY steeps slopes. But salvation was found in the form of a rare bit of bedrock sticking out from the slope. So to work I went!

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I had to install my monitoring blocks and do Schmidt Hammer readings on the host block to see how much deterioration will happen on there during the test period.

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After about 30 mins of work, it was all set up! If only I had brought scissors to trim the excess off the clip ties….

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On to the next site. After walking along the edge of Endalen Huw spotted this gem:

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Amy gave me a hand by writing down the Schmidt Hammer readings, after which I installed the blocks.

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All done!

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So to keep this post to a reasonable length I’ll leave you with one last photo of the landscape.

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10/8: ERT and laser scanning in Endalen

Today was a bit of hiccup sort of day. We had a lot of technical issues that made it difficult to make progress. But in the end we managed to get some ERT transects going and Huw got a bunch of scans so it was a good day all in all. Amy has changed the focus of her project on using ERT with soil cores and geomorphological mapping to see how moisture accumulations, soil stratigraphy and resistivity profiles can help us understand why some slopes slump and others move through solifluction. More about that later as we get results in! For now I’ll leave you with one picture of the ERT set-up

 

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Right now, I think I need to finish my work for the night and get some sleep, a big day tomorrow with a lot of meetings and hopefully I’ll be able to set up another station! But yeah, block prep first (and House of Cards). Night night!

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