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CSULB Geospatial Research and Mapping (GRAM) Field Program
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Daily Blog for Kelly

Day 16

Posted on June 27, 2012 by Kelly

Today began with some driving around the island trying to find the point of interest Wes had identified earlier using imagery. It took a bit but we eventually found Mahaulepu beach where Courtney and Ali paddled out into the surf on longboards, trailing the data probes, to collect readings. Alison and I took the opportunity to collect some water samples as well.

After lunch we headed back to Poipu to get even more data. This time Alison and I grabbed the probes and went snorkeling in opposite directions. I had a good run going until an unexpected wave caught me up and tumbled me onto the beach. Luckily it was a sandy area so I made it out with just a minor scratch or two. My snorkel did not fare so well however, somehow during the tumble it was ripped from my mask and lost in the surf. Since I didnt have my snorkel, I decided to walk back to the others and call my portion of data collection done for the day.

By the time I had walked back, it was closing in on 4pm and the others were finishing up as well, so we all packed it in and headed back to the house for the evening. The night was peaceful since the other two teams got a chance to do paddling with the canoe team, which meant that Team Hydro ™ got a chance to have some leftovers and spread out as much as we liked.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a 1/2 data and 1/2 field day since we still have one more embayment left we want to collect data on.

Day 15

Posted on June 26, 2012 by Kelly

Data day today.

Of the three teams two where at NTBG working on data analysis. The pre-contact fields (archeology) group went out into the field and likely had a more interesting day. My team however was in the lab.

After a full two hours of searching, I found an up to date set of Hydro tools that I will need to do my groundwater project, along with a tutorial and sample data set. This is exciting, I was getting a little concerned that I was going to have to learn a new tool (to me anyway) in less than two weeks blind, and now I wont have to! I still need to get a complicated process down, but with the tutorial to guide me I am confident I can do it.

After a few hours of data I broke off to take a second tour of the Allerton Garden, then went out to get a small gift of appreciation for Dr. Becker for the help he has been to the hydro group so far (today was our last day working with him until we get back to CSULB) and get some diner while I was out.

Tomorrow is some more data gathering since we have some data that may highlight places of SGD, we will be sampling some areas in greater detail. If we can get it all done then it may be our last data gathering day.

Day 14

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Kelly

Another early morning today, we had a trip to Nualolo Kai. Nualolo Kai is officially a state park on the northwest part of the island. According to Dr. Burney this was one of the last areas populated by native Hawaiians, they were forced out in the 70’s when the area was designated a state park. Preserving the native culture by evicting the natives, sometimes common sense loses out to logic (logic would dictate that the best way to preserve the artifacts of the site is to stop people from living there since habitation disturbs the artifacts).

We left the docks at 6am in two boats; the boats were about 20ft long and had a pair of engines. Those two factors combined to make the boats skim across the water seeming to jump from wave to wave. We would be sitting around the edge of the boat on an inflatable seat/ring. If you google “Zodiac Boat” you can see some examples of what I am describing. Armed with a little anti-nausea medicine (I learned from my last time on a small boat) I was ready for the bumpy ride.

On the trip out I sat near the middle of the boat with my back to the coast. I got some spectacular views of the coastline and some awesome sea caves, but had little opportunity to snap any photos. Every time I considered pulling out my camera we would hit some rough waves. The cool morning air and exiting ride did a good job of waking me up.

We arrived at Nualolo Kai around 7am and soon had our basecamp set up for the day. Dr. Burney took the undergraduates on a tour of several of the archeological features of the area including another Heiau, this one with a freshwater well in the center, the only reliable source of freshwater in the area. After the tour was completed we broke into 3 general teams, one team went to watch/help with the aerial photography, another to begin setting up for some archeological investigation, and the third acted mostly as a wild card/free day. I spent the majority of the day resting in the shade, swimming in the ocean between lava rocks, and helping a little with the ground-penetrating radar. When not engaged with such activity I napped, it was glorious. The only negative part of the day was when my camera broke, I am not certain when it happened but based on the last photo I snapped I believe it stopped working when it slipped out of my hands to the ground. Shock proof my bottom.

About 5pm our time on Nualolo Kai was coming to an end, we packed up and headed for the docks to wait for our return trip. Since this trip was in the afternoon winds had shifted making parts of the ride rougher than they had been this morning. Still, I knew I wanted to have a memorable return so I chose to sit in the very front of the boat, the area that experiences the greatest bumpiness during the ride. These two factors combined with having a captain that had a more aggressive style to create a truly exciting ride back home. On more than one occasion I got a face full of sea-spray as we crashed into one wave after leaping off the previous.

The exciting ride did have one downside; it left my arms and shoulders tired from gripping the safety ropes, and my knuckles on my right hand a tad sore from being repeatedly driven into my seat.

Day 13

Posted on June 24, 2012 by Kelly

Today was something of a half day. Rather than having a traditional field day, we drove up into the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii” Waimea Canyon. The views were spectacular and I got some really cool photos of the scenery. Unfortunately my camera is dead and I can’t upload any photos until later but I hope the last set I took rom the final overlook turns out well. They were a series of photos showing a cloud moving into the canyon from an adjacent ravine.

After the field trip we went to Poipu beach and had a chance to relax, enjoy the sunshine and do some barbequing. Tomorrow is an exciting hike in Nualolo Kai, from what I understand getting to spend an entire day in this location is a rare event, possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Day 12

Posted on June 24, 2012 by Kelly

Today was a super early day, and because of events you will read about momentarily a very short blog.

In the light of dawn we set out to meet with a charter fishing boat that would be towing our sensors behind it today. The boat was a trawler, about 25-30” in length and made for an exciting ride in the rough surf.

Unfortunately for me, the rough surf and small craft quickly overwhelmed my stomach and I spent the vast majority of the 3 hour tour feeding the fishes with whatever I could dredge from my stomach. The ordeal did come to an end and afterward I needed about an equal amount of lying still in my cot followed by a hot shower before I felt human again. On the bright side, we got some good data.

Between the GPS tracks, sensor data, water samples, and coast features we photographed we had plenty of data to work with through the afternoon for processing.

Day 11

Posted on June 24, 2012 by Kelly

Today was a split day, half lab work and half field work. In the morning we went to the NTBG lecture hall to begin recording spectro data on the rocks we collected yesterday. I am very glad that I do not have to use a field spectrometer, the blasted thing would freeze every 4-5 samples requiring a full restart which, including calibration, would add 10 minutes each freeze. In the end I decided to break off from the spectro analysis and work on some data collection for my portion of the project. I will be working on creating drainage basins for groundwater discharge. I’ve never worked with the hydrology groundwater tools in ArcMap, so this will involve some learning on my part.

After the spectro data was collected we began preparing for data collection a little later. Today’s collection would involve getting salinity and temperature readings from part of the Kauai coast. We got on the good side of a local outrigger canoe racing team who agreed to tow a pair of our sensors behind each of two of their canoes during a practice today. We attached GPS units to each canoe set to take a waypoint every few seconds, hopefully we will be able to combine these two sets of data and have location, temperature, time, and salinity in a single database.

After the rigs were set, we had an awesome opportunity to learn a little bit of canoe paddling.  Our team split off among the two remaining six man canoes and the holes were filled with experienced paddlers who weren’t part of todays practice. While we were at it we set up the final sensor behind one of the remaining canoes. After a brief lesson of the basics we set off into the harbor and did a few laps. Paddling is an excellent exercise I must say, by the end of our tutorial I felt like I could barely lift my arms!

Day 10

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Kelly

Today involved a lot of hiking and ground trothing/geologic sample taking.

After breakfast, and a brief drive, we began hiking from The Cave to the Heiau. After arriving at the Heiau, we realized that there had been a miscommunication with Dr. Becker. We were supposed to start our survey at The Cave! So we hiked back to the cave to start all over again.

First we did a little survey of the groundwater and limestone inside The Cave, checking salinity temperature, and total dissolved solids etc. After acquiring some data inside The Cave we moved onto the freshwater stream that runs just outside the entrance. There we recorded the same categories of data, and based on preliminary observation in the field the water in the stream, at the bridge, is about 350% more salty than the water inside the Cave. This is due to the flow of sea water from the ocean (wave action?) upstream. One interesting finding was the water temperature gradient in the stream at that location. The water was several degrees C warmer and much saltier near the bottom of the streambed than the surface. The inverted temperature gradient is probably caused by the denser sea water (more dissolved solids) being warmer than the freshwater and the difference in density from dissolved solids being greater than the difference in density caused by the delta temperature.

After taking our water readings (with samples) we started our Hike 2.0. During the hike we stuck to the cliff rocks as much as possible to gather our samples. In total we took eleven different rock samples from limestone through volcanic rocks. If I understand the geologic history of Kauai correctly, our samples may represent a range of about 3 million years ago to “just” a few hundred thousand years ago. Not bad for a range of a little over 3 kilometers. In total we hiked almost 6 kilometers today, so I didnt feel bad about taking a little break for a quick swim at the end of it all at Shipwreck beach.

The next stage in our project will be building a spectral library of our rock samples, collecting ocean temperature data, and investigating what spectral indexes would be useful for identifying specific types of rocks using satellite imagery.

Day 9

Posted on June 20, 2012 by Kelly

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.

Day 8

Posted on June 19, 2012 by Kelly

Today was our first full day on Kaua’i.

I woke up around 6:25 when the light of dawn really began to effect the inside of the weather port. It felt like what I imagine living inside a light bulb must feel like, the domed ceiling over my head lit up a surprisingly bright orange.

After breakfast we all piled into vans to take a tour of the National Botanical Gardens. The gardens were beautiful. During the tour we were bombarded with neat facts about the conservation efforts being made there. At one point our tour guide, Dr. Burney, commented that our field of view was over the greatest concentration of endangered species in the USA.

The View


After touring the NTBG we moved to the cave to break for lunch and tour the inside of the sinkhole. However, after lunch, the plan for the day changed (plans can be such ephemeral things) and we instead observed the kite and UAV that are being flown by the university of Hawai’i team.

Conditions were just windy enough to make flying the kite a challenge and the team decided to not do a full flight after having tried a dry run (no gear attached to the kite). The UAV on the other hand was able to fly through the wind.

We got a good demonstration of the UAV at the fields of an abandoned sugar cane plant. Apparently, it was the first such plant opened in the islands and heralded the start of the plantation era. It was closed in the 90’s and the fields lay fallow until just recently opened to test GMO seed corn (probably not a good change).

Pre contact this area was a major agricultural zone for the natives and previous aerial imagery has suggested the outlines of prehistoric field boundaries. We will see after processing today’s imagery if those outlines are still visible.

A quick dinner in the evening and I turned in, tomorrow should be another good field day.


Day 6 and 7

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Kelly

Super abbreviated post this weekend.
On the 6th we had sort of a “free day”. The only responsibility I had was to pack for the flight today and relax. Now I should have spent this time elbow deep in academic papers, and to my credit I was probably wrist deep, I printed out multiple papers that looked interesting considering my coral identification needs for pt 1 of my research question and read through one of them between meals and relaxation.
Today I awoke at the crack of 5am to start a bit of the hurry-up-and-wait disease that is air travel. After a bit of backscatter I received a truncated freedom touch because of the belt attached to my pants (no metal parts so I had left it on; apparently a touch worthy event). This flight was pleasant considering the nature of being 6’3″ and in coach. I did earn a little good karma by switching with a wife so she could sit next to her husband, time will tell what that karma will net me (a good hair day with my luck).
After landing the other men and I settled into our large tent like structure, there is a real name for it but I do not know it. After unpacking and starting some laundry I went on a hike with the other undergrads to get a little feel for this pacific island.
I have to say, this is a beautiful place.
Tomorrow is a day of introductions and tours, I am a little excited to get started.

About Kelly

Kelly is a senior in Geography at CSU Sacramento. He has his A.S. in GIS, received from Columbia College in Sonora, CA. His research interests are legion but generally center around leveraging GIS when conducting vigorous scientific study. Currently, when not working as a research intern, Kelly works for a GIS Enterprise Solutions Company (one of the many that partner with ESRI) performing a variety of tasks depending on the specifics of the project.