Welcome to the blog for the Oberlin College Geomorphology Research Group. We are a diverse team of students working with Amanda Henck Schmidt on geomorphology questions. This blog is an archive of our thoughts about our research, field work travel notes, and student research projects. Amanda's home page is here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Welcome to Dominica Day 6, by Jackie Buskop and Dexter Kopas! Fraught with water sampling, gas sampling and rock collecting. After an hour and a half north along the beautiful coast all three cars arrived at the Picard River to collect water samples. 

Dexter, Mazi, Kira, Cole, and Pat ventured bravely down the river to determine factors like temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen content. The rest of us loitered in the shade, argued about the parameters constituting a sandwich (see graphic below) and stretched our legs to recover from the hike (see day 5 blog post). Meanwhile, Team Rock Smash looked at pumice clasts and lithics in a finely laminated pyroclastic flow. After we gracefully piled back into our vehicles, we drove further north up the coast to Fort Shirley where we feasted on our potato filled bread pockets and gazed up at lava domes. 

Inside the fort, an exhibit retold the story of European colonialism in Dominca. For your extended historical knowledge, after the British colonized the island in the early 1800s, they forced groups of indigenous persons to form a slave regiment to protect Ft. Shirley. After much toil and hardship, the regiment revolted against the English control and fought off ships that were sent in to reclaim the fort. In the end, they were set free and everyone lived happily ever after and there were never any problems on the island from this moment forward. (This interpretation of Dominican history has been slightly dramatized.) Also learned about was the Munchineel tree: do not eat its fruits or burn its wood, for you could die from ingestion or inhalation of its noxious fumes!

Whilst enduring our windy car ride up the mountains, Team Sieve vigorously debated whether a hot dog was a sandwich and whether the definition of sandwich depended on structure or filling. (see: is a wrap a sandwich? is a taco a sandwich?) Other food related debates regarding the differences between  broccoli and broccolini and cheese stuffed crust vs crust stuffed cheese ensued.

After our historical stop, complete with ocean view we drove east into the heart of the peninsula of Morne aux Diables to sample the cold fumaroles at Cold Soufriere. Team Water (Mazi and Dexter) took more samples of the boiling pools, while Team Rotten Egg (Jackie and Pat) sampled gas from fumaroles at Nancy's and Eric's pool. Knees weak, arms spaghetti, they could get close enough to the fumaroles to absorb the delicious sulfur fumes, as the magma chamber is deeper than elsewhere on the island, imparting chemicals (pH of 1.4!) but not heat. 

Jackie and Pat using a funnel connected to a Giggenbach flask via a tube. The funnel is held underwater to collect gas that is bubbling up from the fumarole. Gas bubbles through the NaOH that neutralizes the acidic CO2 and H2S and collects in the headspace within the flask.

Next the group split up. Most of Team Rock Smash headed back to Springfield to process samples and get some much needed rest. 

Meanwhile, Justin sampled andesite banded pumices and enclaves from a quarry at Morne Trois Piton. 

Team Sieve and Team Water had a relaxing afternoon of wading in rivers and sieving for sand. They drove down the east coast to sample sediment and water in three rivers emptying into the ocean. Team Sieve will be backtracking erosion rates of the island's larger rivers using Be10 dating. At one river, the delta margin between the river and an estuary could be easily seen. 

After a long day and a late dinner, the Keck troopers were happy to snooze early, as tomorrow will be another long day. 

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