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California State University, Long Beach
CSULB Geospatial Research and Mapping (GRAM) Field Program
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Daily Blog for Alessandra Pistoia

final two days

Posted on July 7, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

I spent Friday morning completing my data analysis.  Unfortunately, I discovered that all my samples were seawater with the exception of two spring samples.  Go figure!  Although I was unable to classify rock origin and presence of submarine groundwater discharge, the process was still useful for showing what could be done with water samples by using the ion chromatography and by using ArcMap to visually represent this data.

To read a more in depth explanation of my research process click here.

After a long day of work, Courtney invited us all over to her house.  Her mom made chicken enchiladas, delicious!  We also enjoyed beer while lounging in her jacuzzi.  Beer:30 at its finest!


We gave our poster presentations today.  Tacos followed soon after.  Glad to be finished, sad to leave these people.


Posted on July 5, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

I am attempting to work as quickly as I can to finish my data analysis; unfortunately, the machine that I am process all of my samples through is quite slow and the learning curve is fairly steep.  It took about 8 hours for all my samples to run, which means I did not have any time to analyse them. While the samples were running, I worked on making cation and anion standard graphs so that we can figure out the concentration of each sample.  The machine automatically does this, but Dr. Becker insists that doing it by hand is a better educational experience.  I agree with him.

It was a slow but productive day.  If only I could have another week of these…

grapefruits over long beach

Posted on July 5, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

Happy Birthday America!

Dr. Wechsler invited the whole group over to her house for a good old fashioned BBQ.  Her hospitality was generous and the food was delicious!  The climax of the evening had to be the grapefruit battle between the young boys under the age of 9 and the young men over the age of 21.  It was an epic event to witness.  Several suffered from grapefruit pulp wounds.  


Posted on July 3, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

More of the same…

Time in the lab is going slowly with little progress.  Sounds like research, right?  The ion chromatograph is not reading our carbonate standard correctly, so I may have to scrap looking at anions as a whole and just focus on the cations.  These would mean reducing my piper diagram into just one triangle.  We are going to try again on Thursday, but since my time here is quickly coming to an end, I will not have time to troubleshoot to the extent of which I desire.  Constraints push me to go with the flow, forcing me to accept what may come of this research.

ic data here, there, and everywhere

Posted on July 3, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

I spent the day becoming familiar with the ion chromatography machine.  I am filtering all of my samples and then diluting them because the concentration of salt might shock the system.  This is a timely process, so I didn’t concentrate on much more than this.


I also worked a little more on my final map.  I am setting up my map so that when I finish my sample analysis it will be easy to plug values in.

from one beach to another

Posted on July 2, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

Travel day!


Sad to leave this beautiful land


and these beautiful people

go beach!

Posted on June 30, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

Beach day!

from friends to family

Posted on June 30, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

Today was our final day of data collection.  We complete this step at a bay across from Prince Kuhio Memorial Park.  Courtney and I snorkeled the bay while we held onto a logger and GPS unit.  The water was the murkiest I had seen in Hawaii.  It was nearly impossible to see further than a 10 feet radius.  This blindness made things exciting when I would stumble upon some neat creature, such as a large sea turtle.  I let this guy lead my snorkel adventure for a few minutes; the journey was a little slow but completely worthwhile.  We spent the rest of the day at the beach with the archaeology group.  Our group has grown into something that resembles a close knit family.  Although we may not always get along, we still respect each other and you can always count on people being there for you if you fall.  I am lucky to surround myself with such great people!

perks of a scientist

Posted on June 30, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

Time to prepare our group presentation for the evening lecture was first on the agenda for the day.  We created a PowerPoint for the overall project, as well as for each individual project.  The purpose of these presentations were to give the rest of the group an idea of our progress on our project.  We were also open to suggestions and questions; this type of criticism can be very helpful to strengthen research questions and methods.


After lunch we went back to the Allerton Gardens,however this time we explored a new area of the gardens–the beach. I dare claim that this is the best beach on Kauai and possibly the WORLD.  It is an exclusive beach due to isolation.  Allerton is private property but all beaches are public, so in order to get around trespassing you have to either hike around Allerton or swim onto the beach.  Unless, of course, you are a scientist and you are granted special permission.  Perks!  While at the beach two people collected logger and GPS data on a long surf board; I collected water samples by walking a transect on the beach.  Once we finished, Matty and I went on a wild goose chase to find a volcanic spring that was rumored to be on the gardens.  I needed a sample of the spring so that I had a baseline of the chemical signature of water that flows through a volcanic rock.  We discovered that all the springs that feed the fountains in the gardens had dried up, but the well that now feeds them is from a volcanic rock aquifer.  We went to the deep well and had to construct a device that lowered my sample bottle to the well.  I give all credit to Matty to creating this device!  Successful collected a sample and waiting to get back to Long Beach to analyze them all by means of ion chromatography.




colorful progression

Posted on June 27, 2012 by Alessandra Pistoia

Every time that I collected a water sample, I also took a GPS waypoint with a Garmin.  I projected these points onto an annual rainfall raster layer overlain by a watershed polygon layer, as well as a layer with all of streams on the island of Kauai.  A rough draft of this map follows…

I plan on adding the GPS points from when I collected samples from our fishing boat excursion.  Also, I will visually display the water chemistry of each sample by using a Piper Diagram.  I color coded a Piper Diagram that I will use as the key in my final map product.

Once I run my water samples through the ion chromatographer, I will be able to visually display the results by plotting the chemicals in each sample on this diagram.  Each sample will have a point on the two triangles and the parallelogram.  The dot will fall within three unique colors.  These colors will represent the corresponding point on the map.

About Alessandra Pistoia

I am an Environmental Biology major and Mathematics minor at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN. This project will be my fifth research experience, but first REU. After graduation, I intend to work and enjoy my youth for a few years, then go to graduate school to further my education.