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


Three Dog Night, Three Blog Day…

Posted on June 25, 2013 by Jessica

It appears that I have missed a few days of my blog, so let’s start with Saturday. Oh beautiful Saturday! What a glorious day to hang out in the barn and work on data processing. I managed to get a lot of work done and it was overall a very productive day, especially since I had to recreate my analysis based on the corrected GPS data. Around four o’clock the entire group met with the professors and TAs and we all discussed our progress and future directions for our projects. I mentioned the work that I have done with the archaeological features out in the valley and talked about how I had spent my time measuring and getting the locations of these features. My goal is to provide a comparison of the environmental constraints and historic changes affecting the visibility of archaeological sites in the Ka’a’awa Valley.

That night was Cole’s birthday and I was on dinner crew for the evening. We had tacos with refried beans and rice before celebrating with a bonfire and a late night swim in the ocean. It was nice to get everyone together and relax after a long week.

Next up SUNDAY! We got a few people together and rented a car to drive the island and explore. At our first stop I ran into the ocean and immediately saw a sea turtle. It was so majestic! We then went down the Koko Marina for lunch at Kona Brewing Co before driving up to the North Shore for shopping and snorkeling. Finally we made our way back across the island to meet the rest of the group at Waikiki Beach. It was long day of driving and sun, and it was totally worth it!

Today, I stayed at the barn and worked on data processing all day. Around four o’clock we took a field trip to Foodland to pick up snacks and personal items. If it wasn’t for our short excursion this evening, I would not have ventured out beyond the area immediately surrounding the barn.

Days 18 and 19 – Hiking, Data Collection, Data Processing

Posted on June 22, 2013 by Jessica

Yesterday, Shelby and I went into the field to collect more measurements and photos of the features located on the other side of the Ka’a’awa Valley south wall. Although my so-called ‘shock proof’ camera broke midday, I was able to download and process the images I took. I spent most of the night working on PhotoScan and PhotoSynth image compositions that will be hyperlinked into my final map project.

PhotoScan 3D Model of Shelby with Rock Feature

Today I stayed at the ranch in order to work with the common product geodatabase that Kerry compiled for the group. After symbolizing the different data layers, I was able to refine the parameters of my research. I hope to be able to determine the potential relationships between the location of archaeological features and the environment with regards to slope, elevation, proximity to water, erosion potential, and historic disturbance events.

ArcMap 10.1 - Areas of Potential Erosion

After dinner, I got a chance to talk to Dr. Lipo about my research so far and I received some constructive feedback on the steps that I need to take in order to complete my analysis. I look forward to hearing what everyone is doing with their research during our progress update tomorrow afternoon.

Day 17 – Measure Twice…

Posted on June 19, 2013 by Jessica

This morning Shelby and I were joined by Dr. Wechsler in the field. We spent the morning finding some of the previously known features and measuring the slope and distance for accuracy using a laser range finder and clinometer. At our first stop, I climbed to the top of a rock wall where it reaches it reaches the base of the cliff. On the way back down the slope, we identified an additional feature that we had previously overlooked. We then continued to follow the rock wall towards the floor of the valley while taking distance and slope measurements along the way. The rock wall is crossed by two recent vehicular paths, which creates disturbance of the feature and potential discrepancy regarding the construction date of the feature.

Rock Wall with recent wire fence

We then went further into the valley to capture better photos for two more features, one of which was the house we encountered during our tour on the first day at the Kualoa Ranch. I took over 200 photos of the house for use in PhotoScan. I am currently working on processing the data to create a 3D model to overlay on the map to provide a ground view of the features that are hidden by canopy cover. Once I finish processing the PhotoScan images, I will work with Shelby to revisit the data dictionary for use with the Trimble GPS.

PhotoScan model of house feature in progress

Day 16 – Research Proposals

Posted on June 18, 2013 by Jessica

Today started with a discussion of everyone’s research questions and was followed by a demonstration of the geodatabase we will be using for analysis. It was so great to hear what research everyone will be doing. I will be focusing on a valley-wide distribution of archaeological sites through the analysis of the physical and natural environments in which they occur. Tomorrow the University of Hawaii will begin their archaeological field school within the Ka’a’awa Valley which will help to identify unknown sites within the study area. Shelby and I will going back to a few key sites in order to collect accurate measurements and photos to process in Photoscan. I look forward to getting back in the field tomorrow after having two days in the barn.

Day 14 – Common Products Presented

Posted on June 17, 2013 by Jessica

Today was a slow day at the barn. After Shelby and I put the finishing touches on our powerpoint, we had lunch and killed time as we waited for the presentations to begin. Once the presentations were finished, I was able to consider the types of data that could be used to help influence my research question.  It was exciting to see what the other groups had been working on all week, especially since it is so easy to become consumed by your own data collection and processing.

After dinner, a few of us went to the sheep and goat pen to feed the animals and were surprised to see a one day-old lamb huddling by its mother. We then went back up to the barn for another meeting on the possible research questions that can be addressed with the available technology. Although it was a very informal conversation, it was helpful to hear all the different options for individual research over the next two weeks. I look forward to receiving feedback on my potential research questions over the next couple of days.

Day 13 – The Ocean Breathes Salty

Posted on June 16, 2013 by Jessica

Today was our first day off since we arrived in Long Beach on June 3rd. However, because our common products are due tomorrow, the morning was spent crunching data and preparing for the presentations. Shelby and I have identified more archaeological features than I had anticipated and I am confident that our data will be useful for further research.  After ameliorating the problems we were experiencing with merging files and geotagging photos to points in ArcMap, we completed the first portion of our data processing with time to spare.

At 1pm, we drove to the North Shore and spent the day in Haleiwa enjoying the sun and surf. Today was my first time swimming in the ocean since I have arrived, even though the beach is a short walk away. The few hours of unstructured personal time provided a much needed break after a long week of data collection and data processing.  After a quick stop at the grocery store, we returned home for more data processing and birthday cake for James. The data processing is finally done and the images for tomorrow’s presentation are ready. Tomorrow we will all share our data and discuss the possible research questions that can be addressed over the next two weeks. I look forward to seeing what everyone has been working for the past few days.

Day 12

Posted on June 15, 2013 by Jessica

This morning when we arrived at the Kuaola Ranch, we stopped at the parking lot rather than heading directly to basecamp and we told to wait upstairs in the check-in area. We then made our way through the gift shop and the rest of the Ranch grounds to a room where we were shown a short video on the history of the Kualoa Ranch. It was interesting to learn how the land was acquired and the family’s attempt at sugarcane processing, cattle ranching, and their reactions to World War II. After the video we made a quick stop at the historical center, which provided additional visual information on the history and prehistory of the Ka’a’awa Valley. We then broke into survey groups and continued with the data collection process.

Exploring the Rock Wall

Kerry and I went back to the same study area that I had looked at yesterday and hiked through the dense vegetation in search of more rock walls and other anthropogenic features. We were successful in finding features from the start, thanks to the tell-tale Kao Hoale trees that tend to grow out of the features. We followed the first feature up towards the base of the cliff and discovered a large agglomeration of rocks which extended south into another large rock wall. The entire feature created an invested u-shape, which was repeated multiple times throughout the hillside. The historical photos of the Kualoa Ranch showed rock walls of the same shape and described them as water maintenance features. This seems to be a reasonable explanation since the rock wall features line up with the slope and drainage areas of the mountain once plotted on the World View 2 image of the Ka’a’awa Valley.

Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to see the Laser Scanner in action, but I covered a lot of ground and logged a few more data points so it was worth it. On the way back to the ranch, we stopped at the Shrimp Shack that we pass everyday on our way to and from the field site and I must say it was delicious. When we returned home, it was time for data processing, laundry, data processing, and more data processing. Shelby and I only have a few more things to do before our presentation on Sunday, so I am feeling confident that I will get to enjoy some free time at the beach tomorrow.

Day 11

Posted on June 14, 2013 by Jessica

The day started the same as any other day so far; wake up, make lunch, eat breakfast, apply sunscreen, apply bug spray, more sunscreen, and head to the Valley. Once everyone had met at base camp, we had a restructuring of the survey teams. Shelby and I were split up and joined by members of the geology and hydrology team in order to cover more ground. Dr. Lipo then drove Thomas, Gordon, and myself around the south wall of the valley to investigate the rock walls that run down the slope of the hill from the base of the cliff towards the ocean.

Study Area as seen from the road

As soon as we got out of the car, I realized that we were in for more than I had anticipated. The climb was pretty steep and so densely vegetated that you could not see the ground in most places. Fortunately, the cattle are allowed to roam this area so there were a few predefined paths for us to follow. It didn’t take long to identify the first rock wall thanks to the linear orientation of the koa haole trees growing out of the rock features. The length and construction of the rock walls was amazing to see in person.

Rock Wall

At 11am we headed back to base camp to eat lunch and plan our next moves. After watching a few UAV flights provided by Williams Aerospace, Shelby, Jeanette, Thomas, Courtney, Cole, and I headed out into the valley to survey the one last area we had not yet covered. Although we only had less than two hours in the field, we covered a lot of ground and took a few points on the Trimble GPS units. We then headed back home and stopped for Hawaiian Shave Ice on the way. It was a delicious end to a long and hot day in the field.

Day 10

Posted on June 13, 2013 by Jessica

Today, Shelby and I were joined by Jeanette in the field. It was nice to have a new set of eyes and another pair of hands to help identify and geolocate possible archaeological features. We started off heading to the most eastward point of the north wall of the Ka’a’awa Valley in search of a strange rock feature that was pointed out to us by the UAV team the day before. By the time we found the location we had jumped a few fenced and made friends with a few dogs. The feature itself was located pretty high up on a steep hill, however, upon inspection we determined that it was a natural formation and not anthropogenic in nature.

On our way back across the valley, Jeanette pointed out a rock wall that she had identified previously with the Geology team. After taking the coordinates, we made our way towards ‘The Temple of Doom’ in an attempt to find the linear feature that we had spotted from the hill the day before.

Temple of Doom

Although our search did not turn out as expected, we did find other features nearby that were similar to the anthropogenic features we had identified the day before. We continued hiking along the south wall of the valley looking for additional potential archaeological sites to map with the Trimble. Around 1:00pm we experienced another beautiful Hawaiian rain shower as we broke for lunch. We took the opportunity to relax and eat lunch before making our way back down the hillside. As we descended down the slope, I got distracted by a seemingly misplaced tree and decided to investigate. What we found appeared very similar to the other rock features we found, but was surrounded by loose rocks that seemed to follow the slope of the landscape. I look forward to further investigating this location in the future.

Lunch Time

After we had returned to the ranch, we had some free time to go to the beach and work on data processing. Now that everyone has finished with lab work for the day, we are all going to watch Jurassic Park and enjoy the evening.

Posted on June 12, 2013 by Jessica

What an exciting day in the field! After breakfast we immediately left for the Ka’a’awa Valley and plotted our course for the day. Jeanette pointed out the terraces she found during her team’s geology survey the day before. Shelby and I were very thankful for the help after yesterday’s initial survey which turned up very few results. Once John arrived at the site, the three of us made our way through the cattle pastures, crawled under the fences, and hiked up the south wall of the valley to reach our destination. We were unsure of what exactly the terraces would look like but they were unmistakable once found. The terraces were not as distinctive as I had imagined, but the linear changes in elevation against the grass landscape were identifiable from the ground.

After we had plotted the feature with the Trimble GPS unit, we continued up the hillside and found another location that was possibly prehistoric in nature. Due to the deep cut in the hillside and the recent infrastructure nearby, we were unable to identify whether or not the site was the result of the fairly recent construction of the well nearby. After we had tagged the well and adjacent rock features in the GPS, we headed back down the hill in order to investigate another ridge of the wall.

When we got close to another densely vegetated area, I noticed some of the trees had a bright pink plume sticking out of the canopy. This was the same tree that I had noticed at the rock platform from the other day, so naturally we had to investigate further. My instincts were correct and we wound up in the middle of a large rock feature at the source of the dense woody vegetation. Because of the canopy and the location close to the valley wall, we were unable to record a point for the feature; however, once we crossed to the other side of the rock mound, we found another possible terrace and plotted a point adjacent to the feature.

Dense vegetation surrounding a large rock feature

Again, we made our way down the hillside in order to head back to the vans for lunch. Along the way, we found one of the rock walls that Dr. Lipo had told us about. We hiked alongside the wall to obtain the coordinates for the linear feature, which ran approximately 50 meters up the side of hill.

After lunch, we hiked the north wall of the valley in search of the heiau that was pointed out to us previously by John Morgan, the owner of the Kualoa Ranch. Although we did not find the feature, we did find another large rock feature hidden under dense vegetation. It seems like most of the non-terrace features are covered in dense vegetation which is helpful in identifying where potential anthropogenic features are located, especially when the surrounding landscape consists of low grasses and light vegetation.

We had a few snags transferring our ground control points from the Trimble units into the computer, but after a few attempts and a little help from our friends, Shelby and I successfully imported our data and created two maps which show the features that we have identified and our areas of investigation for tomorrow.  Now that we have the momentum from finding multiple large sites, I am looking forward to finding new study areas to map tomorrow.

About Jessica

I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I am an Anthropology and Geography double major with a focus on archaeology and human geography.