The Menial and the Mundane - Absolute Must-Haves!

May 30, 2018

Being a rock-star planetary seismologist isn’t all glitz and glamour you know! Being safe in the field and getting great data takes a lot of careful preparation. This can be frustrating when you are raring to go out into the field. Today’s post is written by Natalie Wagner, an undergraduate research assistant studying geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

It’s been three days in Thule and things are starting to move along. Yesterday we spent all day between preparing the second load of kit to helicopter out to our field site, and sending Erin and Suz off on their scouting trip in the helicopter. Loading up the helicopter only took about an hour since we had moved all the gear to the hanger the night before. After snapping a couple pictures of them taking off, we made our way over to the warehouse where all our gear was being stored. Dani and I began to weigh, label, and adjust the contents of one box to the next while stacking it in one neat pile. Nick and Brad spent their afternoon testing the seismometers to make sure everything worked properly before packing them in boxes to be labeled and weighed, all of which was categorized in Excel by priority A, B or C, and logged with their contents and total weights. Once Erin and Suz made it back from the scouting trip, we spent another couple pf hours just putting together the cook tent to see if everything was okay with it.

To be honest all of this felt like menial work, but I’ve come to realize that it really makes a difference when you get out in the field. It’s better to be doing this stuff in a warm warehouse where you can take bathroom breaks and eat chocolate on the side, than to be doing this for the first time in the middle of an ice sheet, where temperatures are cold and your fingers become stiff and numb. In most cases, when preparing to head out the field, working in a 70 year old dirt filled warehouse with obnoxiously loud fans is as good as it’s gonna get, so we have to take advantage of it!