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Archive for June, 2013

Yesterday saw the remainder of my companions depart back for home. I am now flying solo. But, just for a few days until a special guest arrives.

For my first solo day I was planning on finishing up the sampling at the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks site, but the weather decided to alter that a bit. I was up and out early and on the mountain right on schedule for what would be a long day of sampling. Unfortunately high winds and horizontal rain soon tested, and defeated, the waterproofing of my gear. Along the way I did meet a nice man, Thomas, who knew a fair bit about the Irish glacial history himself, and asked for a copy of the research paper once it was published. 

I was able to grab two samples, but now find myself in a Killarney cafe waiting out the storm. It’s a bit misleading because it is sunny in town, but the mountains aren’t visible through the thick cloud cover. 

I’m going to give it another try in a couple of hours. Until then I will catch up on the data logging and enjoy my coffee.

Here is a picture from Donegal the other day. Just to remind me of what the weather can look like in Ireland at times.Image

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We have had a few very productive days lately. We sampled a good moraine set in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, site scouted a complex cirque with the help of Irish experts, and discovered a great sampling site with incredible views.

After getting an opportunity to explore the Dingle Peninsula we spent the following day sampling a lateral moraine system in County Kerry. What initially looked like a simple history turned out to be far more interesting. Multiple sets of moraines with multiple boulders available for sampling. We were able to collect a good number of samples, but I will still be returning some point in the coming weeks to grab some more. 

The day after we left Kerry and traveled north to Connemara, a place I had the chance to spend a good bit of time in a couple of years ago. We were joined by two more glacial experts, Marshall and Paul, who helped provide added eyes and analysis to the field sites. After exploring the region and discussing the ice sheet history, I took them up to a cirque I have mentioned here in the past. We had a great day in the field checking out samples and debating/analyzing the landforms, trying to piece together the history that was far more complex than I had initially realized. Much like the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks I will be traveling back here in the near future. 

Having finished up what we set out to do in Connemara we left todayand drove to Mayo and Achill Island. This is a beautiful place with some great views of the North Atlantic Ocean. We hiked up to the top of one cirque with the hopes of scouting a site that had the potential for sampling and were happily surprised to find a cirque riddled with bouldery moraines. Even though there was no planned sampling for the day we felt it necessary to grab what we could while we were there. It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect. This one belongs on the revisit site with the others. 

Here are some pictures looking out from the large cliff face adjacent to the ocean, and one of myself demonstrating flawless sampling technique.

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As for now, I am pretty beat. It was a long day, but a well spent one. Back at it tomorrow. 

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Yesterday we got into the field and explored up within the glacial valleys of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. What initially started as a reconnaissance/site scouting mission soon turned into me collecting my first samples as we encountered a few boulders that were too good to pass up. As we kept moving further and further into the valley we kept finding more moraines. Eventually the weather turned sour and we had to call it a day. The high winds and horizontal rain were a little too much to tolerate on the second day.

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The weather was worse today, especially up on the mountains, so we used this as an opportunity to drive out to the Dingle Peninsula and site scout some cirques. The peninsula is a beautiful area of Ireland with great views of the Atlantic Ocean from high cliffs. After driving the perimeter, we drove up and over Conor Pass to search out the cirques. Unfortunately the cloud cover wasn’t cooperating and it was difficult to determine if there were moraines or even boulders worth sampling. Fortunately we did find a cirque with an ice fall and the possibility of multiple sampling sites. It is also historically significant as the site were the ice ages were first recognized in Ireland.

Here is a nice view on the peninsula.

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After two over night flights, visiting family in NYC, and more money than I like in baggage fees, I arrived in Ireland this morning. I was picked up at Shannon Airport by my adviser Peter and his field experienced wife, Jorie. Immediately we set out from the airport for Killarney in County Kerry with the goals of staying awake and prepping for the field work. We grabbed a few supplies in town including this Discovery Series topographic map of Ireland.

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After getting settled and grabbing some dinner we drove out to eyeball tomorrow’s field site, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, in person. Having spent a significant amount of time scouting this site through Google Earth it was an impressive and exciting experience to see just how massive these features really are. In the handful of minutes we were there we already started putting together a game plan and finding areas to sample. It’s looking like this will be a good field site. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we stay dry this week.

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In just over a week I will be boarding a plane for Ireland. This will mark the start of the first of two field seasons for my graduate research involving surface exposure dating of cirque moraines. The plan for this season is to focus on western Irish mountain ranges found in the counties Kerry, Galway, and Mayo including the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the Nephin Beg range. 

Sample collection will involve chiseling off top portions of glacial erratics found along moraine crests, and hauling them back down the mountainside to the vehicle. My understanding is that it will be a bit of a workout. Here is a picture of a few of the tools I will be bringing with me.

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Most of these have already experienced one field season in Antarctica, so I hope they are still up for the task.

I am sure this will provide plenty of storytelling and picture sharing opportunities, and I plan on doing just that through this blog. Hopefully the hostels will be wi-fi friendly. If not, there’s a good chance I could find myself in a coffee shop or two along the way.

Please check back, and I’ll keep the updates coming.

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