Field School Day 2

We have had a busy second day.  Well, half of us have.  The other group had a nice, easy morning of  identifying vegetation, and a wet afternoon of free time.  My group spent the morning sampling soil at Wasootch Creek, and the afternoon collecting water samples at Sibbald Meadows Pond.

Soil sampling was both fun and difficult.  The difficult part was hitting rocks and gravel in the creek bed/floodplain.  My partners and I ended up digging a small pit (“but, the walls kept caving in… really!”) while the other sampling groups managed to dig narrow boreholes.  All in all it was good fun and interesting, though.  We found a shallow organic layer (O-horizon) in the creek bed (this makes sense) followed by a thick and gravelly A-horizon.  At one point in our digging, we came across pebbles about 5-10 cm in diameter, but at about 50 cm depth we found the gravel was much smaller, only about 1-1.5 cm in  diameter.

After we were finished with the gravelly soil in the creek bed we moved up the slope about 20 metres to collect samples from there at similar depths.  The digging was much easier here, as the organic layer was much softer and thicker thanks to  all the decaying material on the forest floor.  Walking up there felt like walking on a luscious, soft carpet.  It sort of was, since it was covered in sphagnum moss.  Anyway, we dug from 0-60 cm depth and found basically all organic material and sandy loam of the sort that would be perfect for gardening.  Below 60 cm we started to encounter the A-horizon, which was a light gray clay-based soil (Dave actually rolled a small piece of the clay into a ball to throw at Eric…).

This was followed by lunch (chicken wings & pasta salad), after which we went off to Sibbald Meadows Pond to collect water samples.  It was really wet, raining steadily until about 3:15 or so, at which point it cleared right up and the sun came 0ut to warm us up.  I got some pictures of Dave and Eric each wearing the hip waders, each out about 10 metres from shore.  From these points we collected a subsurface water sample and a bottom sediment dredge sample (to be used in another project back at home).  Samples were tested on site for pH, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.  We also took a sample to be tested for hydrocarbons, and a sample to be tested for metals – these will be done by the chem tech students back at SAIT.

Anyway, dinner was spaghetti & meat sauce, chicken (shake-n-bake style), salad, and ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.  So yummy.  Now for the evening we have had our meeting with the instructors and many are working on lab work to get ready for tomorrow and complete calculations for today’s work.  There were card games last night and this afternoon, and a wee bit of drinking, too.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m pretty tired and not terribly interested in drinking every night anyway.  Working outside definitely takes its toll and it’s easy to get tired out.

Tomorrow my group has a free period in the morning, so I’m planning to go for a hike up the barrier lookout trail.  A group of three went today and they didn’t go all the way to the fire lookout, so we’ll see how far I can get tomorrow.  I don’t know if anyone else is interested in coming with me, but that’s what I plan to do.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kenclarke6194 on September 28, 2010 at 20:23

    Sounds like you are having fun! I bet you are glad that you got the rain gear this weekend.

    • Yes. It would have been really nice, though, to have got some kind of rain pants. But having pants that dry really fast works just as well. Just have to endure being a bit wet while it’s raining.

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