I turned in early yesterday, right after dinner, so I had plenty of sleep when the cocks starting crowing at 6:20 this morning. After nice breakfast myself and the other interns trekked out into the field.
The day began with a tour of the makauwahi cave led by Dr. Burney. Dr. Burney had been leading the excavation of the site since the beginning. Dr. Burney spoke for a bit on the geologic history of the sinkhole and cave. Much of the structure of the cave is a form of limestone that has been denuded by the acidic groundwater flowing from the volcanic areas of the island. The origins of the rock are from sand dunes which compress and harden overtime. When water percolates downward through the sand it liquefies and can form crystals, in ideal conditions, and the rock becomes increasingly hard over time. The story of how Dr. Burney found the cave is really great, but I won’t reproduce it here. IF you like you can read his book which if focused on the topic; I have and definitely recommend it. The book is titled Back to the Future in the Caves of Kaua’i: A Scientist’s Adventures in the Dark.
After the tour we broke for lunch, I got to sit on the beach only a few yards away from the entrance of the cave and enjoy my lunch; it made for a nice break in the day.
After lunch the entire group hiked to a Heiau which was a religious temple for the native Hawaiian people. Only part of the base is left now, constructed from thousands of rocks placed with a great view of the ocean (right on the coast in fact).
After arriving at the temple base we split off into two teams. My team, hydrology, left on a hike lead by Dr Burney to view some of the geologic features along the coast. Tomorrow we will re-hike that area to take some detailed notes and GPS data. I believe that this will help inform the collection of temperature data when looking for SGD. Tomorrow is shaping up to be another good field day!
After the hike my team returned to the house to prepare dinner for everyone else. If I haven’t mentioned it before dinner will be prepared on a rotating schedule, with each of the three teams taking turns preparing a communal dinner and cleaning up afterward.
After dinner we had a lecture from a geologist Dr. “Chuck” Blay who literally wrote the book on Kauai geology. The talk was, as expected, focused on the geology of the Hawaiian Islands. After a brief general overview the talk focused much more on Kaua’i. I have had limited geology courses, only one in college in fact, so this talk was extremely interesting to me. One fact that was especially interesting is the evidence that may show a major section of the island breaking off and sliding into the sea right near the end of the shield building phase. From a geologic perspective the part of the island that the hydrology team will be surveying is rather young, only dating between 1 million and a few hundred thousand years ago while the rest of the volcanic rock is between 3 and 5 million years old.