12 June 2009

More water in Atacama Desert Caves!

09-10 June 2009

Image: Canyon Cari.

Today, we worked in the second most picturesque canyon in this region – Cañon Carí. As with the rest of this region, Cañon Carí is completely otherworldly. I as well as others on this expedition have said numerous times, this are would be the perfect set for a SciFi movie.

Image: Explorers Club Flag photo. We'll probably take a few during this expeidtion; however, the backdrop was excellent. We were beneath an arch in Canyon Cari. Credit: Dan Ruby.

Our cave for the next two days is perhaps the most mazy and long of all our study sites. It’s rather tight in places and requires skills becoming of a Yogi.

Image: "Dan the lollipop man" and the rest of the mapping temam. The lollipop is a protractor wheel used for collecting volumetric data of our study caves.

The sensor team spent considerably more time in this cave than we probably needed to. We could not relocate one of the instruments that was deployed in one of the last days of our expedition last year. We scoured the cave and could not relocate this instrument. It was quite unfortunate to lose another instrument; however, we are doing quite well thus far in relocating our sensors. We’ve been unable to relocate only two thus far.

Losing instruments during a project is not foreign to me. Despite thorough documentation of the location and multiple pictures taken at each site, these things still happen. Kyle Voyles and I have lost more than one sensor working up on Grand Canyon north rim. It’s always frustrating when it happens, but it happens.

Image: Christina inspecting some small salt pillars in Luna y Media cave. Credit: Dan Ruby.

We did make another cool discovery. We found water in another Atacama cave. Luna y Media contains pockets of mud in a passage which is at a much higher elevation than the lower entrance, and the floor is solid halite. We are still curious as to the mechanism(s) resulting in the deposition of water in this cave.

Image: "Barro" or mud in yet another Atacama Desert cave. It is getting interesting in northern Chile!

We were able to pull data off of all our instruments on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the sensor team had a contingency operations day, where we caught up on our data analysis.

All is continuing to proceed smoothly on this project. We are still on schedule and we are making good progress.

Image: A rare view of the property with water. There's an ancient irrigation system in San Pedro that brings water for crops and plants to the interior of the village. I've noted the irrigation system across our property, but this is the first time I've seen the land irrigated. All we have to do is move a few stones and you have water in the desert!

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