Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blood puke

The common tradition of chewing on Areca nuts is practiced in Nusa Tengarra Timor (NTT).  It is similar to chewing tobacco, but chewing on the nuts produce a deep red color.  Hence, Nova indicates that is called 'blood puke' in Bahasa.  I have no idea if this street art is meant to reference this practice, but I really like this sketch that someone drew along the streets of Kupang.

About 1m tall piece of street art.  My working title is 'Blood Puke Vampire.'

Working with BMKG staff and testing equipment

Our testing of equipment and collection of supporting materials has been greatly supported by the Bureau of Mining, Klimatogi, and Geophysics (BMKG) staff in Kupang.  We met with them prior to the arrival of our equipment to find them welcoming and willing to contribute to our efforts.  The director of this branch of BMKG, Pak (Mr./Sir) Sudaryono, clearly understands the value of working with us and the potential for upcoming collaboration.

Taken in front of BMKG office.  (left to right) Pak Sudaryono, Pak Suwarman,
Leland O'Driscoll, Nova Roosmawati, Cooper Harris

Making our way around Kupang is challenging owing to the combination of traffic, scarcity of taxis, and disorganization of the city's business centers.  The lack of high quality building materials complicates the matter.  We have assembled most of our inventory, but this all only matters if our equipment is working properly.  The IRIS institution PASSCAL has provided 15 sets of seismic equipment to accompany the 15 sets owned by the University of Southern California.  Eight USC sets were previously installed in Timor Leste, leaving 22 stations to deploy Indonesia.  Two days of testing resulted in the confirmation that the equipment survived the long journey from the U.S. to Kupang.

BMKG staff looks on and becomes familiar with the PASSCAL equipment.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Prepping for deployment in Kupang

We finally navigated the challenging immigration procedure in Jakarta and made our way to our field base, Kupang. By all means, this is an entirely different place - we may as well be in a new country. The culture is different, the government seems to operate independent from the capitol city, and transportation is achieved through much different means. Getting around Kupang is most commonly done via bima, a small minibus that is crammed with riders and blasting all kinds of western culture dance/party music.
This example is from an early morning, yet to be fully loaded. 

Building and construction materials are sparse and of low quality, making our prep for field work challenging. All assembly is guided by word of mouth. The only thing that is clear is that our ultimate station design will be unconventional...
Kupang is located along a quiet shielded north facing cove at the westernmost tip if Timor island. The scenery is beautiful, an the evening brings a satisfying cool down.

A view from the Aston Hotel looking northward over the coast. 

Evening sunset in the west of Kupang. 
For now, more assembly, field prep, and testing of equipment. We are working on Sunday - typically the day off for the dominantly Catholic population in this region.  Things are moving along, we all are approaching good health - Cooper has weathered some bad stomach bacteria and a likely viral infection, I (Leland) am working through a mild cold, and Nova remains awesome. A LOT more work is to come. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Establishing connections in Kupang

After arriving in Kupang we established many important connections for the project.  First, I was invited to meet the dean and professors in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the Universitas Nusa Cendana.  They were pleased to have us visit and invited us to install one of the stations on campus (our first station in Indonesia is sited !!).

Our BMKG colleagues from the Kupang office showed us their magnetic observatory and the BATI seismic station outside of town.  BATI is a CTBTO seismic station that is installed in a Japanese bunker from WWII.  The sensor is about 30 meters inside of a hill on a 3 meter platform.

WWII bunker entrance to the BATI station
Trillium sensor inside the vault.
Entrance to the station

Communication of the seismic data.
After visiting the BMKG Kupang office to make final plans for our deployment in NTT then we got to meet Governor Frans Lebu Raya of NTT (East Nusa Tenggara). He was very kind to invite us to his residence for tea.
In the governor's palace in Kupang. From left: Prof. Satria Bijaksana (ITB), me, Gov. Raya, Pak. Sugeng (BMKG-Jakarata), Pak Sudaryano (BMKG), and Pak Tyastama (BMKG).

Monday, September 15, 2014

BMKG visit during Molucca Sea earthquake

Nova and I visited BMKG in Jakarta on September 10th to formally establish our collaboration with them on the Banda arc project. We had a tour of their earthquake and tsunami warning center ... which is awesome.  But the best part was the M6.3 earthquake in the Molucca Sea that happened while we were there! Alarms went off, phones ringing, "earthquake, earthquake", lights flashing, analysts quickly picking waveforms to update the location and focal mechanism, watching the seismic waves arrive from all across Indonesia in real time!!! IT WAS AWESOME!!!!! And no tsunami or damage!
Earthquake and tsunami warning center ... kinda like NASA!

Wear during an earthquake!  (No one did though).

Waveforms appearing in realtime as they travel across the archipelago.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Adventures traveling in and around Jakarta

Banda Arc project PI Dr. Meghan Miller and colleague Nova Roosmawati have been establishing the project by finalizing visas, travel permits, immigration paperwork, and much, much more.  Over the past few weeks, they have visited RISTEK (Research Permitting Agency), Immigration, Police, our host institution ITB (Institut Teknologi Bandung), and Kupang (our future field base).  A recent trip to acquire topographic maps of the field area provide a small snapshot of the experience so far: 

1) It took 2 hours to get the Badan Informasi Geospasial agency (BIG) by car, about 60 km outside Jakarta

2) We took the commuter train back to central Jakarta which was awesome! It has a "women only car" that is pink, and even though it is 92 deg F and 92% humidity outside if smells nice.  Plus, it is filled with laughing, cheerful women.

Meghan and Nova - riding with style

3) We got off the train at the wrong stop so we took a bajaj to our hotel.  So much fun! The whole trip was chaos but we now have 214 paper 1:25,000 scale topo maps for the project.  P.S. There is warning to not eat stinky durian fruit on the train!!

Among various warnings of what not to do on train, eating durian is one of them (far right)
Stay posted as the install of 22 seismic stations in the Indonesian portion of the Banda project unravels!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The final install: Atauro Island

My last day for field work in Timor Leste gave rise to the installation of the 8th and final station.  Compass Charter arranged for us to leave Dili at 7:30 in the morning, and return from Atauro Island at 3:00 in the afternoon.  We were all worn down from the prior week of furious paced driving and field work, but there was a sense of jubilation as we began the day.  Most of the crew had never been across the Wetar Strait to visit Atauro Island, providing an extra element of excitement.  We loaded up the gear on the boat and headed north towards the village of Beloi.

About 3/4 of the way to Atauro, we were floating above 3 km of water at this point.

The ride was absolutely fun.  The water was calm, and the low angle lighting of the morning gave an etherial feeling to the start of the day.  As we approached the island, the volcanic nature of the Atauro was apparent, as well as the fact that the island is actively uplifting - there are wave-cut terraces along the south coast that form a stair step pattern that appear to be marching uphill in succession.  The boat nested adjacent to the beach in Beloi Village, right along the stretch of beach where Barry's Place is located.  We unloaded the gear and set out to continue forward with our on-the-fly logistical planning.

The boat crew, an Aussie tourist, the seismo crew, and the gear - all sprawled out on the inviting shore of Beloi.
As much as we wanted to simply jam the seismometer into the sand and spend the rest of the day lounging on the beach, we managed to track down Beloi's town administrator and some motorbike/boxcart transportation.

Rolling in style down the road.  Armando and Marcel are protecting the gear...and doing so with great style and finesse.  This was the most enjoyable ride of the entire field season - a perfect contrast to the rigors of driving across Timor's brutal roads!
We made it to the Administrator building and were convinced the site would be secure enough to leave the equipment.  It is also about as far from the coast as we could manage, a good thing for the quality of the record.  The installation took at least three hours due to the intensely hot overhead midday sun roasting us all like fried bananas and the fact that I did not bring a cable that allows for use of a laptop and therefore, a faster program configuration.  Nonetheless, we persevered - with the aid of Marcel climbing a nearby coconut tree and delivering some nectar of the gods - and established the final seismic station.

The 8th station in Timor Leste.  Beloi district Admin., Eugenio, Ol' sweaty L, Marcel, Bela, and Armando posing in front of station.  The watchgoat off to the right just walked out of view.
We had about an hour an a half to relax on the beach and have some lunch before catching the boat back to Dili.  We had lunch at Barry's, then we strolled out to the beach to swim, rest in the shade, and pick up some local fish.  Armando had the best looking haul of freshly caught beasties:

A few beauties destined for Armando's barbecue back in Dili.
The ride back was just as pleasant as the morning's, but had the added sense of accomplishment.  I probably had a bit of a high from heat stroke as well.  Talk about cheap thrills.  Even better, we saw a few different species of marine wildlife along the way.  Flying drift fish jumped out of the boat's wake and cruised above the water surface for 10's of meters.  Tony, the charter captain, spotted a group of dolphins and doubled back so we could watch:


A truly excellent moment.  Looking back on Atauro, the light was diffuse and the water was smooth. A perfect end to a productive field campaign.

Leaving the new and improved Atauro Island, seismometer and all.