Sunday, January 27, 2013

Animals in the field

When you think about India and Bangladesh, you probably imagine lots of elephants, tigers, rhinos, monkeys and poisonous snakes. On my first visit, I thought I would encounter exotic animals but I saw none. These animals are endangered and their remaining populations are confined to national parks, nature reserves and rescue centers.

So what sort of animals have I seen during my fieldwork?

On this trip, I have seen scorpions, lizards, monkeys, spiders, livestock, fish and lots and lots of dogs. 

We collected a rock sample right next to this scorpion. Luckily he didn't move because it was a cold morning.

We saw one dog with 11 puppies! Cows, chickens and goats roam around freely and Suren (our driver) often has to honk to get them to move out of the road. 

We have also seen a lot of water buffalo that are used to pull carts.

We did some fieldwork near a monkey rescue center here in Meghalaya, India. The Western Hoolock Gibbon is an endangered species native to this area so they breed and release Gibbons here. They also rescue other monkeys that have been illegally kept as pets. They currently have Gibbons named Remi and Robinson.


I saw this wild monkey up on an outcrop while we were working in Assam, India. Sadly, his habitat was being destroyed to make way for construction. There are so many people here in Bangladesh and India that there aren’t many undisturbed places for wild animals to live anymore. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Trip through Tripura

I apologize for the delay in posting, we have been without internet access. Here's a post I wrote last week for you!

I spent the past week working my way across the Indian state of Tripura with Professor Seeber and students named Jonathan and Fayaz. Our very skilled driver, Suren, has been keeping us safe on challenging roads. We visited a series of big hills formed by rock that has been folded up into anticlines. We hop in and out of the car to make measurements on rock outcrops and to collect samples. When we find a quarry, we spend lots of time walking around measuring faults and rock layers.

It has been very foggy and chilly in the mornings. We have enjoyed delicious breakfasts of parata (flat bread), dal (lentils), ‘momlet’ (eggs), and cha (tea). It really hits the spot on a cold morning!

We’ve observed lots of exciting features including really tight folds in the rocks, rock bedding that has been tilted from horizontal to vertical, and fossil wood!

We visited the Unakoti archeological site where giant figures were carved into a nearly vertical bed of sandstone during the 9th-12th centuries. I even managed to find a place to measure the rock angle – right below large figures of Ganesha!

I have been working 7 days a week from about 6:30am until the sun sets around 5pm, but don’t worry we’re having fun and lots of adventure! I even got to try playing cricket with some middle schoolers during lunch one day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Greetings from Bangladesh!

We left JFK for Dhaka, Bangladesh on the morning of January 3rd and arrived in the evening on January 4th. There is an 11-hour time difference between Bangladesh and New York, so while you’re at school I am eating dinner, writing to you and sleeping because it’s night here!

On the first day here, we drove from Dhaka to a place called Sitakund in the southeastern part of Bangladesh. The main bridge across the Meghna River is closed for construction so traffic was even worse than usual! We thought we would have to drive 50 miles north to reach another bridge, but our amazing driver called his friend and found out about a little-known ferryboat. It saved us many hours and we enjoyed our trip across the river.
The ferryboat is a barge that carries cars back and forth across the river. We saw lots of fishing boats on the river. The weather has been nice but some days there has been a lot of haze in the air.
 We are in Sitakund because the rocks are folded, in what we geologists call an “anticline.” The sedimentary rocks here are made of layers of sand and mud that were originally deposited horizontal. Now those layers have been folded upwards due plate tectonic forces. The rock is crumpling up like a rug being pushed at from one end.
Our team at Sitakund: Jonathan, Suvro, Professor McHugh, Sojan, Fayaz, Professor Seeber, Dhiman and Ms. Ferguson.

I’m having a lot of fun hiking around this hill taking measurements. It is beautiful! We’re trying to determine the geometry of faults hidden below the surface here by mapping the folded rock. We also collect pieces of rock to study in the lab when we get home.

Soon Jonathan, Professor Seeber, Fayaz and I leave Bangladesh for India, where we will be crossing more anticlines. Studying these folds and the faults beneath them is very important for understanding how this plate tectonic boundary works and determining the earthquake hazard.

 This map shows the eastern border of Bangladesh in yellow. The green stripes are anticlines (some have their names written on top). They are green because they are hills with trees on top. We will be working on many of the anticlines as we cross Tripura, India. The ground is being crumpled like a rug, forming many folds. 

I hope I will have internet access again soon and I look forward to reading your questions and comments!