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Daily Blog for Julianna Aguilar

Day 17: Busy, busy, busy

Posted on June 21, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

Sorry for the late blog post! Yesterday was very hectic; I was busy literally all day. James and I started the day bright and early collecting data points so we could later attempt to correct the DEM. After being out in the field for about seven hours we made it to Atlantis and decided to call it a day. It was my turn to make dinner and stir-fry was on the menu so it took Courtney, Shelby, Emily, and I about four hours to cook for twenty people. By the time we finished cleaning up it was dark out and I still had to work on the data James and I had collected. When we tried to compare the Z values from our data to the existing DEM data, we quickly realized we were obtaining Z values using the height of ellipsoid (which is good) but the DEM was in mean sea level. Not only that, but our vertical accuracy was not very good at all. This was a little discouraging and after about an hour of searching how to convert one unit of measure to another we called it a night.

Day 16: The Water Channel Mystery

Posted on June 18, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

Today we were able to meet with the professors that would lead us in our individual research. Dr. Becker had a lot of helpful insight as to what may be happening within the water shed and some possible reasons for the disappearing and reemerging water. It was very exciting to hear many of my ideas being brought up while he was talking to the group of students focused in hydrology. GPR may no longer be an option in collecting my data simply because the environment around the river channel is not suitable for this kind of tool. In order to produce a viable image using GPR the surface of the study area should be relatively flat and smooth. My study area is heavily vegetated with little flat or smooth surfaces. I will focus primarily on using flow meters, soil profiles, and geologic evidence to answer my study question. Speaking of my study question I guess I should address that now that I’m sure of what I’m doing!

I’m focusing on the water channel mystery and attempting to solve where the missing surface water has gone. To do this I will look at all the factors I listed above as well as some research of course. Since there are a handful of us working on hydrological based questions, Dr. Becker has suggested we team up to collect any initial data two of us will need. Which is a great idea because the ka’a’awa valley has a lot of ground to cover! James and I will be collected various points along the main stream corridor so we can later correct the available DEM. Tonight we will put together a data dictionary to make our lives a little easier tomorrow, since I’m sure it will be a very long day.

Day 15: Hydro Tour

Posted on June 18, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

Morning consisted of writing down a quick thought of what my research question was leaning towards. I left on the earlier bus to the field because I was hoping to scout some potential flat surfaces to use GPR to solve the water channel mystery. I won’t go into detail now about what my question will be since I’m not sure if it’ll be feasible in the amount of time we have left. Essentially I want to figure out why some water channels seem to disappear and reappear.

The first half of the day I spent with the hydrology group since they were giving a recap tour to Dr. Becker and Dr. Wechsler. It helped me a lot because it gave me a chance to see where a lot of the major channels and water phenomenon are located. We also got to hike up a trail to the top of the south western part of the valley, the view was beautiful! And you could really see everything the valley encompasses from a bird’s eye view. The second half of the day I tagged along with the vegetation group, since they were going to be assisted by a botanist.



Since I was covered in mud from our hike I couldn’t wait to come back to the barn and shower! Dinner was great and a few of us went on a walk afterwards.


Day 14: Half way

Posted on June 17, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

This morning started bright and early, Kerry and I were finally able to finish our classification commands in eCognition! I am so proud of us; I’ll include a screen shot of our process tree below.

Most groups continued to polish their presentations until the early afternoon and then it was just a waiting game until the professors arrived at the barn and the presentations started. I was so impressed by everyone’s work! Even though we all go out at the same time of day and spend literally every second together it was surprising how little we knew about each other’s common product. I’ve been focused on bare ground since that was my assigned task for the completion of the common product, but I’ve always been very interested in vegetation and hydrology. Since I was given the opportunity to work with the vegetation group earlier this week I was able to get a feeling of what their final product would be. The hydrological interest on the other hand, had yet to be further investigated. Gordon and James presentation was awesome and gave me many ideas on what to focus on when it comes to my individual research. Instead of trying to combine vegetation and hydrology, I’ve decided to focus strictly in hydrology and look for answers as to where the ‘disappearing channels’ are hiding. I’m sure many people want to look into using GPR to try to find any underground channels or geological features such as dikes, to explain this phenomenon. If no one else claims this question I’d be more than happy to delve into trying to answer it! My second thought on the same idea is to look at soils data and compare soil types where there are ‘clear streams’ to where these water features disappear. There was lots of talk of a sharp line of new and old alluvium which could also potentially have some answers to these disappearing channels.

After a long day of presentations and discussion we gathered around what seemed like a never ending stack of pizzas. It was nice being able to bounce ideas around with the grad students. Emily was extremely helpful with trying to create a meaningful question and support my ideas!

The plan for tomorrow is to finish up any work left with the common product and start ground-truthing any potential areas for our own research.

Day 13: Work Hard, Play Hard

Posted on June 16, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

This morning was a little different, instead of hurriedly making lunches most of us were tapping away at our laptops trying to finish as much as possible before enjoying our half day off. Kerry and I have made a lot of progress! Ecognition has been a lot of trial and error since neither Kerry or I are familiar with the program, the only experience we’ve had with it was in a lab back in Long Beach. We have successfully classified almost our entire study area and have decided to continue with our powerpoint and Arcmap and wait to finish our Ecognition classification until tomorrow since we’re becoming a little frustrated.

Our free time consisted of eating, eating, swimming, shopping and some more eating! It was very refreshing to spend some time outside of the barn and hang out with everyone outside of the workplace. Today also happens to be James Birthday! So we surprised him with cake! We’re going to try to put in some more work before bed and finish tomorrow morning.

Day 12: New Experiences

Posted on June 15, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

Before arriving to the field Kerry and I were unsure of what we would do since groups have been switching up. We ended up with as a sub-team of archaeology. Our leader was Jessica, who is awesome at explaining archeology and showed us the ropes. We headed into the southern part of the valley and the vegetation was extremely dense! I thought yesterday was tough, but today was way tougher to get through! The grass was knee high, but the amount of stuff to see was incredible. We found stone wall after wall and it was fun trying to imagine what they were used for. Before we headed out into the field we stopped in the main shopping area of Koaloa Ranch and watched a short video on its history. The room next to where the video was shown held a series of pictures and dioramas explaining the vast history of Koaloa Valley. Kerry pointed out that many of the walls we found matched the descriptions of images on the wall of the history room, which was very exciting.

After spending some time in ‘the bush’ many of us headed over to a Heiau replica to watch a Terrestrial Laser Scanner. It was very exciting to learn how accurate this type of surveying is and the potential for its use is sky high. The only problem with this type of data collection is the equipment is super expensive. For the last scan we got to stand directly behind the scanner while it was spinning. I wish someone was recording us running around in circles.

The rest of the day was spent on trying to process all of our project data. Kerry and I have spent the last 4 hours trying to navigate Ecognition with some success. We still have lots of work to do! We have to bring in our photos, polish our ArcMap map, and possible create a classification in EDRISI to compare. After so many computer hours we’re calling it a night and hoping for a fresh start tomorrow!

Day 11: Finding Narnia

Posted on June 13, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

Unfortunately, the vegetation team lost most of their data so many of us regrouped and tagged onto their team. Since I had gotten a glimpse into their methods of data collection it wasn’t too difficult to jump in today. Howard and I walked around the north east part of the valley and came across some dense vegetation. It was beautiful! Although I was with the vegetation group yesterday we didn’t stray too much into any dense stuff so it was a very adventurous day for me (as you will see through the pictures.)

It was my job to take pictures of the unknown (to us) vegetation and write down any miscellaneous details about the plant and how to later identify it. While we were out in the field there was a sudden down pour and we had to take cover beneath the vegetation that we were collecting data of, which I found very funny at the moment, but now doesn’t seem like too big of a deal. It got hot very quickly and we headed back to base around noon.


After watching a UAV take off, I split into a part of the hydrology group to try to get a feel of what they’ve done and decide if I want to pursue a final project with data they’ve collected. I’ve come to realize that a project combining vegetation and hydrology may be too big of a bite for one person to handle in the span of the next two weeks. I think I’ll focus on hydrology but am still unsure of what kind of research question I want to ask and research.

A well-deserved shaved ice group hangout was followed by work work work! Kerry and I cleaned up our data dictionary and started to make a plan of attack for tomorrow and what will become our product for the common data. Tomorrow will be a full day focused on our final product and presentation.

Day 10: A taste of Vegetation

Posted on June 13, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

With the help of Robitussin I was able to have a fairly good night’s sleep and woke up feeling a lot better than I have these past few days! Everyone was up early and made lunches, it’s becoming routine. We headed to the study site and some of us were assigned to new teams. The bare-ground group, which I’m in, was attached to the vegetation group for the day. I didn’t mind too much because we were almost done collecting data and I originally wanted to be in the vegetation group.

Perhaps the best decision I made today was to wear long field pants and a long sleeve shirt to collect data because the mosquitos were vicious! Even though I applied bug repellent and wore clothes that covered almost my entire body, my hands were covered! So far I counted 13 bites on my right hand and 7 on my left!!

Even though the mosquito bites are itchy now, they weren’t a problem while we were out collecting data because the plants we were looking at were beautiful! While we headed deeper into the valley to help collect data with the vegetation group we were given a short overview of what they had already covered and what their method of data collection is. I got my journal ready with the proper categories and next thing you know I was collecting information faster than Peter (an original veg. group).

It was very interesting to see how they collected data. To no surprise the only vegetation data collected was on trees that showed a pattern and those they hadn’t seen before. It would be physically impossible to collect data on each species in a week. We encountered some really strange looking plants like the balloon plant, which had little balloon like sacks filled with seeds and covered in thorns. We also found a lot of the plant found here at the barn, pictured below; they close when you touch them! I could spend hours playing with them.

With the common product due date coming sooner I’ve started to think more about what I want to focus on for my individual project. I’m really leaning towards contemplating a question that will involve vegetation and hydrology. Although this was my original idea, it’s a lot more solid now that I’ve been out in the field and seen how they connect.

Once Kerry and I finish cleaning up our data tables, so we can hopefully finish tomorrow, we are going to watch Jurassic Park!

Day 9: Data Collection Continues

Posted on June 11, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

Everyone was up bright and early as usual. With our new set stations in the kitchen breakfast and lunch making went fairly smooth and a lot faster than yesterday. Avocados are a new staple here which makes me very happy! We left earlier than yesterday which was nice because it was a lot cooler. Some of us were dropped off near our “base station” near the Moai and others were taken further up into the valley. Kerry and I worked our way down into the coast and collected several data points along the way. With a new idea of what our final product should be we didn’t focus too much on logging every road, since Ecognition will allow us to classify all objects similar to be the same.


At the beach we focused on sand color, size of the grain, and predominant wash up (plant, shell, rock). We noticed many rock walls and decided to categorize it under rock-piles, in the features we included anthropogenic or natural; these rock barriers would be listed as anthropogenic. So far the only sand color we’ve seen is brown and grain size has been fine. I’m curious to see if we can go back to the beach and wade into the water a little bit. If the sand becomes coarser as we move into the water, that’s probably a sign that there is a coral bed nearby.

Here is a very cool rock we spotted while on the beach!

We also continued to collect points of the roads and finally encountered a dirt road, which is good, and a few more gravel. After venturing off into a gated area, we discovered a series of ponds. Some ponds seemed to serve the purpose of drinking holes for the animals found on the property; others may have been part of a marsh that we ran into when trying to find a shortcut back to the beach. Even if collecting water features isn’t a part of our immediate data collection, we decided to take down points so we could share them with the hydrology group.

After a long day out in the field it was finally time to go home! We were all drained and ready for dinner! Before we could think about dinner though, we downloaded our new data and exported the file to ArcMap so we could give the grad students a general idea of how much area we’ve covered.


Day 8: Field Work Begins

Posted on June 10, 2013 by Julianna Aguilar

I’m not quite sure if I’ve developed allergies or if Paul gave me his cold. Needless to say, it’s tuff to get used to this kind of humid sticky air, but even more difficult when your nose is congested. Breakfast went well; most of us were up by 6 and ready to start the day.  The process of lunch making was a little hectic with everyone in one general area and sandwich bread flailing around every surface of the counter. After getting our data dictionaries together we headed off to Koaloa Ranch.  Having taken classes that focused on gathering data to create a map, I recognized the time consuming issues that could evolve. For example, my geographer’s toolbox class required each individual student to map and classify every tree on campus! Needless to say the process was extremely time consuming! The fact that we can program our GPS units, in this case trimbles, with any feature/attribute table we need is awesome! A major time saver.

Koaloa Ranch is beautiful! Even though we were given a tour yesterday, there’s nothing like going out into the field and exploring the many wonders of Oahu on your own. Stepping out into the humid air was a little tough. Coming from central California I’m very used to the heat, it’s in the 100’s back home, humidity not so much. It actually wasn’t even hot, I think temperatures topped off in the 80’ s today, but the humidity took it to an entirely different level.

Kerry and I ground trothed the East side of the valley and were able to collect data on several roads and man-made objects and structures. We quickly noticed we would need to add a new category to our data dictionary, cattle guards. After only a few short hours we were starting to feel the heat! So much walking and so much humidity! Lunch couldn’t have come sooner. After lunch it seemed like the rain gods had finally heard our cries and a short drizzle of rain never seemed so beautiful.

As day one of data collection came to a closing we were informed we could later go to foodland. I jumped on this opportunity and got the medicine I needed! Hopefully this cold goes away as quickly as it appeared. Shelby and I had veggie burgers for dinner, we really couldn’t have asked for more! The cough medicine is starting to take its toll, hopefully a long night of sleep awaits me.

About Julianna Aguilar

I am an incoming senior at CSU Stanislaus with a major in Geography. My concentrations include Physical Geography and Environmental Studies as well as Geospatial Technology. I am pursuing a minor in Environmental and Resource Studies. I enjoy outside activities, specifically hiking and rock collecting.