More Delays and an Earthquake

April 9th, 2015 by Lora Koenig
Lynn, Lora, and Olivia watching the northern lights. Photo by Clément Miège.

Lynn, Lora, and Olivia watching the northern lights. Photo by Clément Miège.

Today (March 8, 2015) marks our tenth day in Kulusuk. We are now officially three days late getting into the field. This is pretty typical for field work in this area but we are still a bit restless, ready to get to our final destination and start taking our measurements.

Our standard day in Kulusuk starts with breakfast at the hotel.  After breakfast we hear from the helicopter pilots as to whether we have a chance of flying. There is one Air Greenland helicopter right now for this region that is responsible for commercial traffic, taking supplies to the nearby villages and charter flights, like ours. Our first delays started on Sunday and Monday when the helicopter was grounded needing to have some standard maintenance. While we were disappointed to not fly, it really didn’t matter because we were in the biggest storm yet with 40-knot winds. No flying no matter what! The storm and maintenance aligning was actually quite lucky. We tinkered with some final gear, caught up on email, and on Monday night settled in for a movie at the hotel. Towards the end of the movie we heard a strange rattling noise. It was a small earthquake! We emailed Nick and he sent us some great information from the seismometers near by showing the quake which was a 1.9 on the Richter scale. Too bad we didn’t have our seismic equipment deployed or we would have even more data.

A map of the Danish Seismological Network (red dots), showing the stations in the area and the black star the approximate location of the Earthquake.

A map of the Danish Seismological Network (red dots), showing the stations in the area and the black star the approximate location of the Earthquake.

The waveforms from stations near Kulusuk, the event rolled through around 9:11 pm  local time at Tasiilaq. It was a high frequency earthquake!

The waveforms from stations near Kulusuk. The event rolled through around 9:11 pm local time at Tasiilaq. It was a high frequency earthquake!

On Tuesday we woke to blue skies and great views of the surrounding mountains. I packed up my final bag before I even came up to breakfast expecting to fly. At breakfast the call from the pilot brought very bad news. The maintenance on the helicopter detected another issue that required a new part. The helo is now grounded and expected to be for a while. There is another smaller helo on its way to Kulusuk but it will not arrive until the end of the week. We have adjusted all of our loads so that we can use either Helo, whichever is ready first and, hopefully, we can use both to make up some time.

We spent the rest of the beautiful day on Tuesday testing our hydrology equipment and a new ice core drill on a nearby frozen lake. In the evening, the clear skies allowed us to see the Northern lights for the first time on this trip, and for many on the team, for the first time ever. We made the best of the day considering we would have preferred to be in the field. Now we will just wait for both a weather window and a working helicopter. It just started snowing outside again so we may be here for a while longer. Fingers Crossed.

Clem, Josh and Lora testing the new ice core drill.

Clem, Josh, and Lora testing the new ice core drill.

Kip and Olivia testing the hydrology equipment to penetrate through the ice into the water.

Kip and Olivia testing the hydrology equipment to penetrate through the ice into the water.

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4 Responses to “More Delays and an Earthquake”

  1. Niki says:

    Hi from Salt Lake City! Thanks for keeping us updated, here at SLCSE we are hoping that you make it out of Kulusuk soon. My students beg me every day to check Olivia’s blog, you should know that you have an enthusiastic set of 12 year old students rooting for you. I am grateful that they get to learn first hand what it takes to be a scientist.
    Thanks for being an inspiration.

    • Lora says:

      Thanks for letting Olivia join our team. Make sure you ask her lots of questions about her work.

  2. peter francis rivett says:

    keep up the valuable research. Cheers from Adelaide. S.Aust.

Notes from the Field