No Bananas in the Aircraft!

I guess you had to be there.

Today the weather in Sand Point was not visually impressive, but the cloud ceiling was high enough, so that meant a return to work after our weather day. Better yet, the weather forecast was for that weather pattern to stay stable into the evening, so we could expect to get a solid day’s work in.

In the morning Jim Normandeau and I flew out to install a seismometer near Cape Wedge on Nagai Island. That went well, with no snags at all, although I could only get it level to a max force of 0.43V instead of 0.14V at the first site (both are well below the tolerance, though). The best news from our site on Nagai Island was that we could see most of the peaks out on Big and Little Koniuji Islands further trenchward, which meant that the weather in the Outer Shumagins was better than the weather near Sand Point.

Jim Normandeau with the Andronica Island continuous GPS station mast.

After that, we fetched the continuous GPS equipment from the lower slope of Andronica Island and worked our way up through the fog to install that site. The site install went quickly and smoothly, and we were getting to the final touch-up stages after only about an hour! Jim did the real work of installing the mast (with some help from our pilot), while I hooked up the batteries and finished the receiver box. We could do this on the same flight because the one failed attempt yesterday had still delivered the box to the right island. The helicopter doesn’t have enough capacity to take the GPS box and batteries, and the seismic box and batteries, and the tools at the same time. But it can take two out of those three.

After some lunch and regrouping, Jim and Sam Beane from UNAVCO then loaded up to go back out to the Outer Shumagins. This second flight of the day was meant to install three campaign sites (the last three on our list!) on Big Koniuji, Little Koniuji, and on the southwest tip of Nagai. All of these were successful, although the Little Koniuji site involved a brutal 1.5 hour roundtrip hike up and down a steep mountain (about 700-800 feet elevation gain, with a ~1:3 average slope). In between, they stopped at the NOTA/PBO site AC12 on Chernabura Island to swap out the old receiver and replace it with a modern multi-GNSS Septentrio receiver. Not only will that bring improved data for positioning (and modern hardware), but it will also provide about 50 satellites for reflectometry and other applications.

The crew got back late, and we cooked up a spaghetti dinner. There is only one restaurant in Sand Point open at dinner time, and we had that last night (pretty good Americanized Chinese food, actually).

I am heading out first thing in the morning to fly home, which will take a couple of days. I would love to stay until it is all done, but I have a review panel to do and an increasing pile of beginning of semester Department Chair issues to deal with. But we have already completed most of the work, and the remaining part is in good hands. There is just one more seismometer to install, and two more continuous GPS sites. We expect to get the GPS sites done tomorrow, and the seismometer install plus picking up the campaign sites may be done the day after tomorrow. The longer-term weather forecast looks pretty good, so the work will likely be wrapped up by mid-week, ahead of schedule!

Jeff Freymueller, Michigan State University

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