Geoscience field trips can be grueling and – without the right preparation – hazardous. Research sites are often miles away from civilization, accessible only by foot or helicopter. For many, however, being surrounded by nothing but untouched nature is reward in itself.
The trip to service the Mojave Broadband Seismic Experiment began on October 10 and took five days to conclude. Each day typically involved a 15-20 mile hike through rocky, unmarked terrain. UTIG graduate students Kelly Olsen, Brandon Shuck and Simone Puel who were on the sensor-servicing team shared their favorite moments from the trip.
“The systems are simple and very easy to use,” said Puel. “Our role was to download data, check the systems and apply any fixes or additional protection.”
Simone spent a lot of time in the field when he was a geology undergraduate, including the Alps and Mount Stromboli in his native Italy. However, there was something unique about the Mojave Desert.
“The experience of going to the desert and seeing nature so untouched is very special. More than anything you feel the quietness – it’s really a unique experience.”
Olsen and Shuck are both marine geophysics students. As the sensor stations were deployed in remote locations far from the “noise” of human activity, servicing the stations involved challenging hikes of up to seven hours across mountainous terrain.
“The Mojave Desert field trip was very different from the fieldwork I normally do. It was much more physical work but at the same time much more peaceful. There’s a lot that can go wrong on a boat so you have to be alert all the time, making sure you are fixing things in real time. This kind of trip lets you think more carefully about where you are and what you are doing. There’s a lot of hiking involved though. I’m not sure you’d do this if you didn’t like hiking!”
“Getting to see the regional geology close up was a special experience,” said Brandon. “There’s so much going on, geologically speaking. But to really understand the geology and see the detail you need instruments like the ones we were servicing. It’s very cool that we were part of this.”