Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The balance between good and evil, part 2

There is something mysterious about the mountain city in central Timor Leste, Same (pronounced 'saw-may').  In a previous post, I detailed the duel nature of installing a station in this city – the treacherous passage to get to Same balanced by the beauty of city’s setting.  This duality is still very much present, but this trip offered another round of contrasting factors.  To travel to Same, we set out from Dili to the east. 

We visited stations in Baucau, Los Palos, then Viqueque.  The collection of data in Baucau and Los Palos was fairly routine: change out data cards, improve the station conditions, make a few updates to the recording parameters.  The visit to Viqueque was not so good.  Back in August, I learned from IPG that there was some flooding that put the station in jeopardy.  Their notes suggested that it may still be ok, but I was very nervous and anxious to visit the station.  At first glance, the power system was in good order despite a little water being present inside the equipment box.  However, a critical issue with the seismometer required that the station be decommissioned and taken back to Dili.  Major bummer.  There was no point in leaving the other equipment behind, so we packed everything up and headed to Same.  The road did not disappoint, proving to be as treacherous as ever.  If the sensor was not broken before we pulled it, it most certainly is now.  We arrived after dark in Same and were lucky to take the last two rooms available in the hotel. 

The station in Viqueque, before and after the visit.  We plan
to get it back in order on the next visit.
The next morning, we planned for a quick data collection and station service to give enough time for the rough drive back to Dili.  Not so fast Larry!  When we cracked open the equipment box, it appeared that this sensor was also non-functional.  The data stream was similar to a problem that occurred after the sensors were returned from their previous deployment in Morocco.  In that case, the sensors needed to be repaired at the factory in Canada.  I worried that we now had two sensors that required repair.  But, with great patience and careful assessment of the situation, we managed to determine that the cable connecting the sensor to the data logger was at fault.  This was only possible because we had pulled the equipment from Viqueque.  It turns out that (in an oddly curious way) we were lucky to have an extra set of equipment on hand.  We moved ahead with the servicing and data collection, and set out on the bone-crunching ride back to Same.  The main road was out of service, so we had to take an alternative route.  It is hard to find worse passage than the road from Same to Dili, but it is possible.  The road quality was about the same, but takes another hour to make the journey.  Fun times, but tempered by the fact that we made a full recovery of the Same station rather than pulling it and taking it back to Dili. 

A distant slope on the road back to Dili.  A clear change in rock type
can be seen across the lower topography and the grey steep slope above,
my inner geologist is happy to see evidence of active faulting.

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