Thursday, March 6, 2014

Getting the ball rolling...

I had no idea what to expect when coming to Dili to initiate this portion of the Banda Arc project.  We, the Earth Sciences department at the University of Southern California, had already shipped a substantial amount of earthquake monitoring equipment based on a series of emails with miscellaneous semi-formal agreements.  Let me take a step back...

The Banda Arc project is truly an intriguing scientific concoction dreamed up by a suite of researchers.  For brevity's sake, I mention the USC component that secured funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation to make this all happen: Professor Meghan Miller (Tectonophysics/Seismology), Professor A. Joshua West (Geochemistry/geomorphology), Professor Thorsten Becker (Geodynamics).  The project will incorporate the analysis of Earth processes across a wide range of spatial scales - the uplift and erosion of the surface will be linked to the internal strength of the crust, which in turn will be linked to the large-scale flow of the underlying mantle.  Admittedly, these linkages are ambitious goals, but the Banda Arc region provides a suitable tectonic configuration to do so:

Image: The triangular shaped region of islands surrounding the Savu Sea is our target.  On the left, the plate below Indian Ocean descends below Indonesia, producing a classic "Subduction Zone." on the right, Australia is smashing into Indonesia and Timor Leste.  We are setting out to observe these cases, and intriguingly, the transition between the two.

OK, back to Dili.  I arrive at the Institute of Petroleum and Geology, a newly formed (est. 2012) division of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.  They are responsible for all scientific and economic knowledge of Earth Science within the country.  Headed by president Helio Guterres, IPG has various departments that as working vigorously to grow their understanding of Timor Leste's physical state.  Our project is hosted by the Division of Geohazard under the direction of Eugenio Soares.  These are the two IPG representatives I have been in contact with to organize this project from abroad.  They are especially encouraged to begin the project, and welcome the beginning of our joint efforts.  They are also surprised that I am in Dili and ready to begin installation of the seismic equipment we have sent.  It becomes clear that the focus of my visit is to complete the agreement between our institutions, clear the importation of equipment through international customs, and deliver a clear plan for our upcoming work. 

The beginning of a fruitful relationship.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.