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Recent images from Tony Fiorini

Science in the High Lava Plains

Maureen began working on the High Lava Plains (HLP) Geophysical and Geological Project while a post-doc at the Carnegie Institution of Washington back in 2007. She spent three weeks in Eastern Oregon and came back with great stories of cattle, flat tires and barbed wire fences. I was most interested in The Meat Hook, a restaurant featuring local, free-range, grass fed cattle. She went out several more times servicing the 100+ seismic stations and each time upon returning said "you should come out sometime". Well, my former work schedule made that tough, but I am now footloose and fancy-free. The project ended earlier this month and they needed help in the demobilization of the stations and I was glad to provide some labor. Here are some images, with detailed captions underneath, hopefully explaining what was going on in the photo.

I also have a full gallery of images , here is the link: http://tonyfiorini.zenfolio.com/hlp

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Along the main road in Jordan Valley OR.

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The J-V Club Cafe where a few breakfasts and a dinner were had in Jordan Valley and desert.

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The motel in Jordan Valley all the trucks belonged to the HLP crew, notice how clean and shiny, this was the morning of our first day in the field.

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Getting geared up and loading supplies.

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It was flat and everything was tan. I am not sure what I was expecting, but the lack of trees was the most striking. Sagebrush was everywhere.

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More sagebrush and some sort of shack.

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Our crew on a lunch break. Maureen brought her class out to work, we had Hobart and Brad on our team.

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More Sagebrush.

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Here Brad is getting the seismometer out of the vault. The vault is a big blue barrel buried in the ground with concrete at the bottom. After the instrument was out and packed away, we had to get the vault out too. That was usually the hardest part.

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View from near the top of Steens Mountain. Very cool to drive up to the top and see this.

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Self portrait at the top of Steens.

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The only thing alive up there was some lichen on the rocks.

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Back in Burns, OR is where all the equipment was being staged for shipping. Here solar panels are lined up waiting to be boxed. Each station had 1 panel, so this is about 60 stations worth.

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Here are the actual seismometers that record the ground movement. There are about 100 in this photo.

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This is some of the assorted electronics that go along with the seismometers. Each station had a seismometer, GPS system, power system and data logger, among other electronics.

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Maureen and her class. I was lucky to have a great group of grad students (and their professor) along for the ride to the HLP.

Science in Virgina

As many of you know, I spent last week helping my wife install seismometers in Virginia and North Carolina. She and her colleage Maggie Benoit of The College of New Jersey have begun a project called The Test Experiment for Eastern North America (TEENA). It is a pilot project designed to probe the structure and dynamics of the eastern US passive continental margin and to understand the connections between the surface geology and deep crustal and mantle structure. The instruments are being deployed during the summer of 2009 from the coast in North Carolina to eastern Ohio and will remain in the field for approximately 8 months. These seismometers detect earthquakes all over the world and record them, then the data is collected and analyzed to learn more about the structure of the earth where the instrument is located. I really don't understand much of how that happens, so don't ask. What I do know is how to construct solar panel frames form PVC and steel rebar, dig holes, glue PVC, thread cables and drive 1800 miles. Because that is really all I did. She did all the hard stuff like drawing a very exact north-south line on the concrete pad using a compass. Not just any compass, but a Brunton, the camera of a equivalent of a D3 or 1Ds Mark III. Placing the instrument on that line, EXACTLY, and leveling it. All this in the bottom of a barrel 4 feet in the ground. We also had to run all the wires through PVC and into a waterproof box. Inside the box are the battery, which is recharged by the solar panel and data logger, which collects and stores the data from the seismometer. Oddly enough, the data is stored on compact flash cards, just like the ones I use in my cameras. The 4GB cards can hold about 3 months of data.

Here are some photos of the installation, I will try to explain each photo in a caption underneath it.

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Here you see the blue barrel buried in the ground, the concrete has been poured into it and PVC is being fitted to the barrel lid.

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That north-south line I was talking about.

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Here the seismometer is in place and lined up.

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My expertly constructed solar panel frame.

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The battery and data logger in the electronics box.

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Electronics box on the left, instrument vault (aka blue barrel) and PVC piping.

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Another view of my solar panel frame, isn't it pretty?

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Maggie's husband and son joined us on the last day, he is a cute kid.

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And he knows how to act!