Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Field work in February

Time to get ready for spring's work. As part of the ground-water monitoring network I'm helping create in Utah's west desert, my colleagues and I will be installing gauges at 5 or 6 springs to monitor and record the discharge from each spring on a real-time basis. The plan is to install flumes at each site and record the level of the water, or stage, passing through the flume. For any given level, the discharge can be calculated. The data will be recorded and sent via radio signal to a base station. The base station will be called on a weekly basis and the data uploaded to our website. Cutting edge, baby.

Here I am at an irrigation diversion structure with two local ranchers and Aaron, a very helpful fella from the Division of Water Rights. Aaron is the guy that actually knows how to build and install the equipment; I'm just learning. I would have worn my Carhartt jacket, but I wanted to make a female fashion statement. No, really, the red ski jacket is much warmer than my Carhartt.
Here is one of a number of small springs near the Nevada state line that coalesce to produce part of the flow seen in the picture below. The water is issuing right out of the limestone bedrock here. Pretty cool stuff for a hydrogeologist.

Here I am at another of the monitoring sites. The mountains the in the background are the Southern Snake Range, Nevada, but I am in Utah in this picture.

This is one of the old flumes that we will probably be able to rehab and install at the site in the picture above. If this old flume is in good shape, it will save the Utah taxpayers a couple thousand dollars.

The distance between each of the prospective monitoring site is very far, so trips to visit them end up being mostly about driving on gravel roads punctuated by little tours of the spring areas. It still beats office work any day.

I love to see the desert sleeping. Temps this time around were in the low 40s for the high. The landscape is all brown and crispy and the big sun shines with absolute clarity out there this time of year. We saw chipmunks, hawks, rabbits, coyotes, and a great horned owl at close range, maybe 30 feet. Mr. Owl was totally OK with us gawking at him.

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