Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wormherder Creek

Yesterday we moved to a different field camp further inland at Lake Bonney. Here, we will be sampling another water track. So, today, we traveled around the lake to a water track called Wormherder Creek, which I've worked on quite a bit before. To get there, we took the only wheeled vehicles allowed in the dry valleys: ATVs.
ATVs are only allowed to drive on the lake ice, because their wheels would damage the soil ecosystem. We rode the ATVs around to the west side of the lake where Wormherder Creek flows.

At Wormherder Creek, I helped locate the flow of water in the water track so that we could sample the water belowground. How do you find a water track, you might wonder? Well, Joe demonstrates int his photo. You poke around in the ground with a steel rod until it comes out wet. (Just like finding out if a cake is done baking!)

Once we found the flow of groundwater in the water track, Kelly and I set up piezometers. Piezometers are like miniature wells. They are pipes we pound into the ground that we use to pull up the groundwater. I had to carry a bunch of stuff up to the very top of the water track, where the glacier melts to release the water that feeds the water track. I didn't have my backpack with me, so I put everything into my pockets. I felt like Where's Waldo!

In this picture, I have the following items on me:
- a trowel to take soil samples from the piezometer location
- a metal mallet to pound in the piezometer
- plastic bags for soil and water samples
- two field notebooks
- Joe's fancy camera to document the water track
- a GPS to document the location
- two piezometer tubes
- the steel rod for finding the groundwater flow
- a probe that measures soil moisture, temperature, and conductivity
- a pencil, a pen, and two sharpies

I don't have any pictures that show how far up we walked up a steep incline. This picture is from almost the top, once it flattened out a bit. It was quite a hike carrying all of that in my pockets!

Tomorrow we go back to Wormherder Creek so that I can measure CO2 flux. That will be my last scientific activity of 2012, because that will be New Year's Eve for us!