Saturday, 20 April 2013

Iceland fieldwork #2 - a walk on the watery side by Brighid ODochartaigh

The second day of this field campaign at Virkisjokull. This morning Verity and I took a walk on the watery side while the boys lugged big heavy bits of kit up onto the ice to measure things. Verity got kitted out in her waders to do some flow gauging of the Virkisa river, while I sat on the bank and wrote down the numbers she called out. She was right by the road bridge where we have permanent, telemetred river stage and velocity gauges. We need manual flow gauging to calibrate the automatic gauges and get them as accurate as possible, so every so often someone needs to get their feet wet. She was hoping to measure a high river flow, but last night's rain wasn't as heavy as was forecast, so the river was still pretty low. Which at least made it easier to work in!


In the afternoon I dropped Verity off at the glacier where she was using her steam drill to put in more ablation stakes, which are measuring how much the glacier surface is melting - look out for more from  her about that later this trip! I headed to the boreholes where I'm monitoring groundwater in the thick, permeable sandur (glaciofluvial sand and gravel) aquifer that spreads out in front of the glacier. I was using a little pump, powered by the car battery, to collect groundwater samples from the boreholes for chemistry, dissolved gas and stable isotope analysis, so we can learn more about how the groundwater interacts with rainfall and meltwater from the river. Which went well, even though every so often when a snow flurry blew through it got a bit unpleasant to be working with my hands in a bucket of water at 2 degrees Celsius! At the same time I downloaded the loggers which have been recording groundwater level and temperature since I put them in the boreholes last September. Amazingly, they're all still working! Now I just have six months worth of data to analyse. Bring me some more chocolate and I'll be getting on with it now...

Brighid





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Aasiyah Rene said...
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