The road network on Kodiak Island is confined to the region around Kodiak town, so one must travel by boat or plane to reach other parts of this rugged and beautiful island. Eight of the thirteen seismic stations that we are installing on Kodiak are both off the road system and far from towns with air strips, and we have been traveling to them by float plane. One limitation of using small planes for seismic installations is that there is a weight limit on what you can bring. The float plane we’ve been using, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, can carry 1200 lbs. Our field team and equipment for two stations weigh 1175 lbs! We had to do a weigh-in before our first flight – fortunately they weighed our field team together (not individually). Flying also requires better weather than simply driving to a station. So far, we have found that the weather is worse on the eastern part of Kodiak near Kodiak town but improves to the west, and feel lucky to have had 3 days in a row where we could fly out to some of our sites. The pilots and team at Island Air have been super helpful in planning out itineraries as the weather evolves, and schlepping us and our kit around Kodiak.
In the last three days, we have installed five stations that have taken us to many corners of Kodiak: McDonald lagoon on the southwestern coast, small Anvil Lake in far western Kodiak and the gorgeous Uyak Bay, a fjord that connects to the ocean in the north and cuts across two thirds of the island. This fjord is enabling us to deploy closely spaced stations over a part of the subduction zone fault where large earthquakes occur, one of the primary targets of this project.
Traveling by plane across Kodiak is spectacular; you are treated to stunning views of snow-capped mountains and broad valleys. Sometimes you can see mountain goats lining steep slopes, bears meandering along the shore, and frolicking otters in the water. The views from our seismic sites are really amazing, too, when we look up from orienting sensors and plugging in data loggers. Six down, seven to go for the Kodiak team!
Donna Shillington, LDEO