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


Posted on June 30, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

I’m waiting in LAX for my flight to CLT.  It has been a great learning experience, coming up with a research question and attempting to answer it. Even if I didn’t answer anything conclusively in the timespan I had, I learned a lot of new tools and methods that can be applied to other projects. This program showed me that science really is an iterative process. A student next year might read my project and decide to approach the problem in a different way. Everything builds off something else.

The knowledge of the professors, the teaching assistants, and the fellow students helped everyone learn and approach their research question in the best way possible. The last few weeks have showed me that science is largely collaborative. People need to share, discuss, and build off others’ ideas.  Very little science is done in isolation.

I want to thank the National Science Foundation, Cal State Long Beach, and everyone who helped the REU for the great experience I have had in O’ahu.



Posted on June 28, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

I just realized I haven’t blogged since Tuesday. The last few days have been a whirlwind getting my project finished, and making a presentation and a write up. My paper is up on the wiki-pages if anyone wants to read it. The last few days have been spent cleaning up the data we have and making a solid product. The presentation today was at the Kualoa Ranch. Some students from the archaeology field school came to see the speeches. I thought that everyone did an awesome job with their presentations. It was great seeing how all the projects came together cohesively in the end.

Tomorrow we are headed back to LAX!


Posted on June 26, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

One thing I forgot to mention about yesterday was that a Hawaiian Monk Seal was on the beach I am working on. Someone roped off the area of sand the seal was relaxing on, with warning signs to not get close. They are an endangered species, with only about 1,100 left in the wild. It was great to see one up close.

Today was my last field day. I woke up at 5AM to go collect thermal imagery of the beach with a couple of the TAs, Scott, and Dr. Becker. The thermal camera is motion activated, so it only takes pictures when there is a change in the field of view. The difference in colors from picture to picture make it very difficult to mosaic the pictures together. However, with some post-processing I might be able to get some good pictures from the flights. We went along my beach study area, as well as in the nearby Kahana Bay, where there are established seeps and much calmer water.

I also took some beach pore-water samples along my study area, and got the results I expected. The only freshwater that appeared was very close to stream outputs.

Time for some processing of data!


Posted on June 25, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

This was my second to last field day. Near low tide I took conductivity and temperature measurements all along the front of the valley. The results were about what I expected: colder temperatures and lower conductivity near the stream outlets. There was nothing unexpected in the results, but the data was worth collecting. One problem I have run into is measurements in the same area at the same time of day can be different, due to the choppy surf. I picked up a Levelogger measuring conductivity I put at the outlet of the stream channel. The point it was at does not seem to be affected very much by the tide.

One more day of some field work tomorrow and then I’ll have two days to finish my processing and work on my paper and presentation.

Day Off…

Posted on June 25, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

Sunday was a perfect day off.  I got up early at 5 to go with Paul’s group to Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling before the crowds got there.  Since we were so early we got free admission! The fish and turtles were absolutely beautiful. After snorkeling we went to Teddy’s Burgers, which was fantastic. After that we went to Pearl Harbor. Tickets to go to the USS Arizona Memorial were sold out, but it was great to see the exhibits set up. I took a tour of the USS Bowfin while there.  We spent the afternoon in Waikiki, relaxing by the water. It was a great day of relaxing.


Posted on June 22, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

…Greg and Scott have been handling the processing and organizing of UAV imagery, but it was someone else’s turn. I drew the short straw so I went to the UAV staging area. I thought I would be there all day so I just wore my flip flops. They only were doing two flights with the Gatewing X100, so I was free to go collect some data. I put a level logger where the main stream enters the ocean to see the possible tidal influence… I also mapped all the culverts and areas where freshwater enters the ocean along the front of the valley. I did get to see the take off and landing of one of the X100 flights. It’s amazing to see a totally automated flight go successfully.

This afternoon we had a meeting about the status of everyone’s project. It was good to hear where everyone else is with theirs. I’ve formulated a plan for the rest of the data I need to collect. Wednesday and Thursday will be all data processing and preparing of presentations. It is definitely going to be a busy week coming up… Tomorrow is a day off to see some touristy sights!


Posted on June 22, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

We did more data collection in the kayak today. The water was a lot calmer. The kayaks capsized a total of zero times. We also used the GPR on the entire length of the road in front of the valley.

I’m quite tired so it’s time for sleep. I will definitely update more tomorrow.


June 21

Posted on June 20, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

I intended to do more kayaking to gather more data today. That didn’t happen. First, the data from yesterday needed to be organized and plotted on a map. The problem was that our GPS and the Levelogger were taking points at different times, and we (initially) weren’t sure where they lined up, due to both starting at different times. We saw where they lined up by when the Leverlogger last got out of the water and found the point on ArcMap. We had to fix the differential in the times so that we could join the two tables together. The real problem was that the two utilities we brought the data in on gave a different style of timestamp and one was pretty weird. We had to figure out how to convert it to a format that would match the other… This took a while, but we got it fixed in the end.

Here is a map of the results:

The bluer points are the areas of interest, though they may simply be a result of stream outlets.

Dr. Lipo showed me and a couple other students how to use the Ground Penetrating Radar. It seems like it has potential in my project to be used in my project along the beach, though it seems like it would be easy to pass right over an object and miss it. Range, gain, and a bunch of other options can be tweaked to get a better image (depending on the objects that are being looked for).


This video, uploaded by a fellow student, gives a good idea of how beautiful the Ka’a’awa Valley is:

June 19th – Kayaking

Posted on June 20, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

Today was the first day of data collection for the SGD/seeps. Thomas, Scott, and I took two kayaks across the water in front of the valley trying to paddle in straight lines across the water. With the help of Emily (the best TA ever), we got the Solinst Leveloggers attached to the bottom of the kayaks with zip ties and rope. The Leveloggers have a conductivity meter on them. We each took the cheapest GPS receiver we could find (Garmin eTrex ), in the off chance we lost them. We put them in Ziplock bags and hoped for the best. We made sure to sync up the Levelogger with the GPS so the time stamps would match up.

The waves were a bit choppy in one area. Both kayaks flipped at least twice. I unfortunately lost my sunscreen bottle and sunglasses. The eTrex in a Ziplock bag floats, luckily. After the first time capsizing I made sure to stow the GPS in a more secure place than my shirt pocket. I wish I brought my camera to get some pictures, but it isn’t waterproof!

I kayaked about 9km today. It doesn’t sound like too much, but kayaking in the choppy ocean made progress a bit slow. My arms are exhausted. I’m sure I’ll sleep soundly tonight after all that exercise…

We looked at the Levelogger data and there are two points of interest that we are going to revisit. The problem is that we can’t get to GPS data to show up correctly on ArcMap to see where those points are. I’ll try to fix that in the morning…

Chinaman’s Hat (not my picture ):

Mokoliʻi Island, known as Chinaman's Hat

Project direction is defined. . .

Posted on June 18, 2013 by Gordan Buckingham

This morning the whole group sat down together with all the professors and TAs to get a sense of where everyone is with their projects.  The whole hydrology group wasn’t really honed in on what they wanted to do, but we got lots of feedback from the professors. It took a while to get through everyone’s ideas, but it was helpful to hear exactly what everyone is doing and how they are approaching different problems.

Afterward Kerry showed us how she put together our common product (she did an awesome job!)  and added a standardized metadata structure. Greg showed us all the naming structure Scott and him came up with, along with their procedure for getting data from UAVs.

In the afternoon the whole hydrology group got to get together with Dr. Becker to discuss what our projects would be exactly. Thomas and I are covering the submarine groundwater discharge (SGD), aka the seeps. We are splitting between near-shore and off-shore, though I’m sure much of the work will overlap. There will be a couple tools we will be using to identify where the seeps are. First, we will use conductivity meters all along our study site along with a GPS receiver to see if there are spots that definitely stand out. Second, we will hopefully get obtain thermal imagery by running some flights with the quadcopter, as long as the sensor is working. Thirdly, ground penetrating radar will be used along the road on the shore to see if there are any major differences in soil moisture or possibly an indication of fissures/channels underground. If we definitely find some seeps we can try some basic water quality measurements.  There may be some other tools that can be used for my project. Some more reading up on the subject tonight will be needed!

Time for a break and my favorite food ever… Lasagna.

About Gordan Buckingham

I am a senior at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. I am studying Geography with a concentration in GIS. I am interested in all things spatial and I am excited for this opportunity to do research on O'ahu.