Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Field Work is Coming to an End

Its been a surprisingly exhausting summer, and feels doubly so as I write this at night in a San Diego hotel as we wrap up our last day of field work. For me, its the last day of field work of an intense summer, that included a total of about 30 days in the field in Washington, and another 20 or so here in San Diego. Added on top of a visit to my folks, it meant that I've been at home very little this summer. Not that I'm complaining. The chance to work on interesting projects in coastal environments is part of why I signed on to graduate school. But I must confess that the travel was exhausting this year.

A few photos from San Diego. The project down here is Jon Warrick's, and is focused on understanding the movement and eventual fate of about 1500 dump truck loads of mixed sand and silt dumped on the beach just north of the Mexican border. The dumping of this sediment was an experiment - in the U.S. we typically only allow sand to be dumped on beaches, not fine material like silt. The state park in the Tijuana River estuary wrestles with what to do with sediment that collects in catchement basins and marshes, and have to pay to get rid of it. The idea of using it as nourishment on beaches is attractive, and it was that idea that spawned this project.

For me the project involved daily morning trips in a small boat to the ocean just off-shore of the beach, where we collected data on temperature, salinity and sediment concentration at 18 sites, and collected a water sample from each site. We try to get back in by noon or so before the wind comes up, and then head out to the beach to collect yet more water. Tomorrow we drive back to Santa Cruz with boat in tow and a whole bunch of bottles of water. Looking forward to getting home...


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