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Today we're continuing with more soil coring. I'll post some photos of this tomorrow.

I thought I'd post today about improvisation. Working in a remote place often involves some improvisation. There have been many ways we've improvised on this trip, and here's one. Normally, we like to dry samples in nice ovens, or better yet in freeze dryers. For samples that had to be dried here, I "built" this cute little oven. It consists of a box with a hole cut in the bottom to go over a light. With the help of a tripod and an extra bed, the box was stable for an
overnight drying session. And as you can see from the lower reading, it hit my target range of 35-40°C nearly perfectly.

Warning: be careful with heat. I checked the temperature around the light bulb quite a few times to be sure I wasn't a fire hazard. John reports that an older tactic was to use a candle as a heat source, and he caught his plant samples on fire once!

As our soil sampling has proceeded, we've been able to refine our visual target for sites. We're trying to find sites that naturally collect sediment from a significant uphill area with both human occupation and agriculture. As we've proceeded, our skill has improved at finding sites that collect sediment efficiently without being scoured out during major floods. This site was nearly ideal. It samples a large area upstream of gorge in the background.

The exact location we sampled showed evidence of almost continuous soil burial, but had to be chosen carefully because areas directly downstream of the gorge appeared to be scoured out during floods.In the sample shown, the core is composed entirely of material dark enough to be a topsoil, but the sample is from 1.2 - 1.5 m below the soil surface. Throughout most of the island, soils at this depth would be light reddish brown.

Troy Baisden

Was Collapse Inevitable on Easter Island (Rapa Nui)? Reconstructing a Civilisation's Failure is a Marsden Programme Troy Baisden is involved in.

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