What we are all about

Living on the Edge is the field study of earthquakes, volcanoes, and other hazards where tectonic plates collide. Field studies focus on understanding the science behind natural hazards that lead to catastrophic events and subsequent loss of life. Fieldwork is aimed at recognizing hazards and understanding the processes behind the hazards. The blog chronicles the participants and their experiences in Alaska Summer 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Final Countdown (insert music here)

So we are just heading back to our campsite to get ourselves set up for an early departure for Anchorage tomorrow.  It was a great trip, see what the final thoughts are (they had limited time and a lot of laughs during this blog session).  Also a few group photos from the last few weeks!

Isabel Zellweger

Hi!Hi! Well, I cannot believe tonight is our last night here, this is quite sad! These past three weeks have been amazing, one of the best experiences of my life. It is crazy how fast this trip has gone by. I have learned so much, from how to pitch a tent correctly to what an accretionary complex is. I am really going to miss the beautiful scenery of Alaska and the awesome group (Garver and Jackie included!).  My experience would not have been the same any other way. Goodbye LOTE 2009 L!

Ps- Thank you Jackie and Garver!!!


Taylor LaBrecque

Hello, for the last time. We’re all looking forward to going home tomorrow but it’s going to be hard to leave everyone. I can’t believe the three weeks have already gone by or that I have only one more night with my tent-mates. I’ve grown very close to each member of the schisty fissures and I can’t imagine going through this with anyone else. I’m so thankful to Jackie and Garver for putting up with us and making this trip so much fun.  I hope the rest of your summers are amazing!


Tyler Willey

Hey Hi! Tonight is a very sad night, as it is our last night here in Alaska.  Words cannot describe the experiences and sights I have seen and had here over these past three weeks.  It feels like just yesterday that I walked off the plane into Anchorage.  I want to say thanks to Mom and Dad for tolerating our shenanigans and on occasion joining in while they drove us all over Alaska.  I am for sure going to miss traveling and living with everyone! See everyone in the fall!



So after eating our last meal here in Alaska, I cannot believe that I won’t be waking up with these 11 people for the rest of the summer. Spending three weeks with all those on this trip has been an experience of a lifetime. Even if I visit Alaska again in my future I know it will not compare to this trip. Thanks friends and family for giving cool comments on the blog and for all your support for us on this trip… “If ya’ll seen a leprechaun say yeah!”

Tyler Izykowski

Oh, hello there… I didn’t notice you come in. So the trip has finally come to an end. I’ll be spending an extra evening bumming around Anchorage before I head home Sunday night. Words can’t begin to express how awesome this experience has been. I just want to say thank you to Professors Cockburn and Garver (who are doctors), as well as everyone else on the trip for making it everything that it was.

T.I. out.


How’s it going!  I can’t believe that it is our last night in Alaska.  It feels like months ago that I stepped out of the Anchorage airport.  We have done so many things in such a short period of time, and I have no idea where the time has gone.  I don’t have much to say to be honest, except to express how truly amazing this trip has been.  I want to thank Jarvis and Captain Cockburn for all they have done to make this trip as great as it has been.  I also wanted to thank everyone else who made this trip truly memorable.  It was a great time, I won’t forget it. 



Hey everybody! I can’t believe this trip is ending tomorrow. This trip has been amazing, its really hard to condense all of the things I have experience in to a few lines. I can only say that I hope I can return to Alaska again and that everyone can experience this amazing land. This trip wouldn’t have been so incredible without Dr. Garver and Dr. Cockburn’s ability to plan a trip that could allow us to see so many different parts of Alaska. Thanks.

-Hobo Jim


What’s up guys! Who would have guessed that this trip is finally coming to an end? There are few words that could adequately explain what this trip has taught me and how beautiful “the great land” is. The incredible sights and sounds let alone the awesome group I have spent the last three weeks with only make me want to spend even more time up here. Alaska is an incredibly special place that everyone should find the time to visit. The doctors not only made this trip an scenic amazement, their knowledge has made it an educational extravaganza as well. All I can say is thanks guys…I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.



Hey there! BFFF! Today is our last day in Alaska! I do not know how the trip went by so quickly! It was so much fun and really interesting to actually see aftermaths of the 1964 earthquake and tsunami. I especially enjoyed seeing and hiking on Matanuska and Child’s glacier. This trip wouldn’t be possible without Professors Cockburn and Garver, which made the trip a blast! I wish the trip could have continued longer! Thanks for everyone making this an incredible experience!



So, wow! Tonight’s the last night we can have s’mores but more importantly the last night that we will be together in Alaska. This has been a crazy experience and has only whet my appetite for Alaska and for traveling in general. It’s been so awesome meeting lots of new people and seeing lots of unique things that are so different from home. This trip has opened my eyes to career opportunities and really inspired me to work in the field. I will never forget the sights, the wildlife, and most importantly the people that have been my family for these past 3 weeks. Jackie and Garver have been more than professors, they’ve been great mentors, friends and parents  (Mom and Dad!). I’m so grateful for all of the hard work that was put into this program! Thanks for reading and have a great summer!

LOL (lots of love)

Thug nasty aka Shabang Shabop Bop Tupac Shakur

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Hi Everyone, we arrived into Seward this afternoon after an over-night ferry ride that left Kodiak Island late last night and dropped us off at Homer early this morning.  The students have lots to say about the last week or so.
Tyler Izykowski

The beginning of the final leg of our trip has docked us on the island of Kodiak. In our three day, two night stay we overcame a flat tire incident (blast you Fire Bear!), spent a lot of time looking at the effects of the tsunamis that hit Kodiak in 1964, and investigated the recent activity of faults in the Narrow Cape area. We determined that Narrow Cape is seismically active and therefore a less than ideal location for the multimillion-dollar Kodiak Launch Complex. In between projects, we relaxed by the beach and fished, catching tons of ugly, prehistoric looking rockfish and even a flounder (well done Shabana!). We’re boarding the ferry back to the mainland where we make our final stop in Seward to say what’s up to our Union Alum brother man, William Seward, purchaser of the Great Land. Until then it’s 9.5 hours on the ferry, which means a good night sleep and a shower. Chaoooo!

Liz Morgan

Whoa Nelly, what a crazy past few days it has been. The last time we chatted we were still in Cordova and had one night still to go in our stay there. After leaving Cordova via ferry, we stopped at Ninilchick for a lovely over-night fourth of July stay on the beach with a glorious view of Mt. Redoubt. After packing up camp we started making our way to Homer. There was a slight delay because of a car accident (not us) and we made it to our destination safe and sound. We had some time to look around the stores in Homer and I got a cool book from the Homer bookstore, as well as pins made from a local artist. The ferry ride from Homer was incredible! I had never been on a boat that I slept on (ferry ride was 13 hrs and we left port at 10 pm Alaska time). Kodiak is amazing. We’ve been studying the effects of the Katmai 1912 eruption on local topography. Its location in the surficial stratigraphy can help identify fault types and determine the local movement of the faults. As I write, I am back on the ferry, and we’re making our way back to mainland Alaska. It’s exciting to have the trip come to an end, but it is bittersweet. It has been the experience of a lifetime and I will treasure the friendships that I’ve made along the way.

Marisa Kwoczka

Since we last chatted our group has been traveling a lot. We went to Hartney Bay and studied the location of sea barnacles on the uplifted rocks that were moved in the earthquake. After the 1964 tsunami, Cordova rose two meters and we were able to see where the barnacles had once lived and where they are present today. Afterward, we hung around Cordova and Liz and I frolicked by the port and then we regrouped and took a ferry to Whittier. From there we drove to Ninilchik and studied sediment deposits and past faults. The following day we took a thirteen-hour ferry to Kodiak and here we also learned about sedimentary deposits. In 1912 Mount Katmai erupted depositing volcanic ash for miles. While studying the sedimentary deposits we noticed different layers of volcanic ash varying from coarse to fine and peat/ dead organic material. In Narrow Cape, Kodiak our group created a topographic map of the area by pointing out faults and reasons why the landscape looked the way it did. During our free time, we swam in the Pacific ocean again, which was not as cold as Ninilchik. Now we are aboard the ferry again but headed back to Homer. Showering here is great and the beds are super comfy! Unfortunately our trip is almost ending, but we will be able to blog one more time! hot diggity dog!



Alex Connell

Hey everybody since we pulled up stakes at the Chugach National forest we have traveled all the way to Kodiak Island. We have done a lot of traveling by car and ferry. We made a stop in Cordova where I saw sea otters for the first time in my life. After hanging out with the sea otters we hoped on an overnight boat to Kodiak. The weather on Kodiak has been really warm, it was actually really nice taking a dip in the chilly Pacific Ocean waters near our camp. We are camped out along a beautiful stretch of stream that flows directly in to the Pacific Ocean. All of us at the campsite have been catching weird looking tidal fish called a sculpin it has been a great time. Since we have been here we have investigated faulting in the twin lakes region, investigated ash layers from the 1912 eruption of Mt. Katmai, and tsunami deposits from the great 1964 Alaskan Earthquake. It has been really interesting understanding the complex hazards that Kodiak Island has to face when planning any major project. I am sad the trip is starting to wind down, Alaska has been amazing. 

Taylor LaBrecque

We’re sadly leaving the beautiful weather on Kodiak Island. We arrived here Monday morning after taking our first dip in the Pacific Ocean on the Fourth of July and were fortunate to be able to see Mount Redoubt from our campsite. We’ve been learning about the different stratigraphic layers at various sites. In Kodiak we were able to make a prediction of what type of fault had affected the area and caused the deformation that we saw. We were concentrating on the area of Narrow Cape and calculated the altitude at the lowest and highest points. The land was shaped in a “W” and could have either been  Horst and Graben faults or simply two faults together. One age marker that kept us in check was the ash from the Katmai eruption in 1912. It had such a distinct color and taste that we immediately knew the time frame that the substrate was from. We found this layer in all of the stratigraphic layers we looked at which gave us insight into how much ash was actually deposited on the island. We only have a couple days left in Alaska and I can’t wait to find out what we’re doing next!

Tyler Willey

Hey all. Since we last blogged we have done much traveling, and now find ourselves leaving Kodiak Island after 2 nights and 3 days. We spent the 4th of July in Ninilchik at a campsite that was beachfront and looking out at the steaming Mt. Redoubt.  We were secretly hoping she would blow. We have spent most of our time studying stratiographic layers and how we can use them to date past disasters.  We have been studying many faults that can be seen in the sediment layers, and spent most of our time at Kodiak mapping the Narrow Cape Fault. We measured altitude at various points along the map and studied some sediment and vegetation before we individually mapped what kind of faults we were on and where they were located.  Most of the group seemed to have the faults down to two different types, and to which group is right continues to be unknown. Our last day on Kodiak we looked at 3 bays that were impacted by tsunamis caused by the 1964 earthquake. In Middle Bay, we were able to dig down and find a layer of ash from the 1912 Katmai volcanic eruption, followed by a very small layer of peat, followed by a layer of ocean sand on top of it.  We were then able to say that the sand was from a sandsheet brought onshore by the tsunamis in 1964.  Some other excitement we had at Kodiak besides great weather (apparently warmer and sunnier then the east coast) was swimming in the pacific ocean, Garver catching a red salmon, and practically everyone catching many small rock fish. The days are quickly winding down, and I am sad to see the end of the trip approaching.  Hopefully our final days in Seward and Anchorage continue to bring excitement and fun!  See y’all in a few days!

Tyler W


Wow! I’ve really enjoyed these past couple of days on the coast. I’m from a coastal area back home but there is no comparison here. In my last blog I mentioned that each area we have visited is completely different and its still continues to be different. My favorites on the coast (Hartney Bay, Ninilchik Beach, and Narrow Cape) have been aesthetically mind blowing and all very different. Hartney Bay (just outside of Cordova)was organically rich and had lots of critters growing everywhere. Ninilchik was very rocky, but looked exactly like a beach. The greatest part was the next morning a Ninilchik when the tide went in about a mile! We met a couple of new people there including our friends Bob and Sonya who grilled fresh Salmon and Halibut for us. “It was the best yet!” Narrow Cape on Kodiak Island was unbelievable. It was very pacific looking…like in a magazine. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought I was in New Zealand! These past couple of days have been full of travel, beaches and music.  Not to mention I had lots of fun when Eve, Steve, Adrienne and Doug came over for s’mores at Mc Kinley Cabin (by Cordova).  The whole gang was singing and thanks to Eve and Steve I’ve been newly inspired to play the banjo! But in our travels these past few days, it was interesting to see the difference in Cordova’s interseismic subsidence (seen at the bay) and Kodiak’s interseismic uplift (seen in the fast growth of vegetation on slopes). I’m really looking forward to our trip to Seward (after all I do live on his memorial street in Schenectady)…not really looking forward to our final exam tomorrow which just means that this trip is coming to an end. But hey, all good things must come to an end. So, all I can do is enjoy our remaining days! Talk to you soon!




As we’re now riding our second long ferry back towards the Alaskan mainland, I’ve got a lot to catch you readers up on. We had a final night in the cabins (another very late night of ridiculous antics) before waking up at the butt crack of dawn to catch a ferry to Whittier, AK on the southern side of the Kenai Peninsula. Upon arrival, we had to drive through a one-way tunnel that accommodates cars and a train on the hour, which was pretty amazing. Our next campground, Ninilchik, was a beautiful beachside site where the friendliness of those in AK continues to amaze, as our neighbors gave us fresh salmon and halibut for dinner. We, in return, stunned the locals by diving into the frigid waters of Cook Inlet. We eventually got on the first of our overnight ferry rides (and got to shower again! It was almost not worth it considering the showers we got J) and arrived in the truly beautiful town and port of Kodiak City. About 10 miles from our campground on Kodiak was the Kodiak Launch Complex, a commercial satellite launch center that we found has been built on a number of active faults (way to go U.S. government!). We also looked at the sediment layering in Middle Bay where we found remnants of tsunami deposits following the 1964 earthquakes. Kodiak was devastated by this event and yet, along with all of Alaska’s coastline, is now tsunami prepared (as evidenced by the awesome siren that went off in Kodiak city today). Kodiak has been a ton a fun and one of, it not the most beautiful place we have visited so far. We hiked up a tall ridge overlooking the Pacific that featured a number of abandoned bunkers from World War II. It was an erie throwback to wartime life and an incredible juxtaposition to the incredible craggy coastline and fantastic wildlife we could see from atop our cliff (puffins, whales, seals and a ton of turns diving for fish). Alaska, as their license plates say, truly is the last frontier and a place of completely unfettered beauty. Only a few days left L but I’m sure they will be as amazing as the last 3 weeks have been!





Well it doesn’t get any better than this.  I’m sitting on the ferry to Homer from Kodiak Island with 8 hours of ride ahead of me.  Everyone is studying for our final exam, which is coming up tomorrow night.  It is a little bit like back at Union except we are living on a boat for a night in ALASKA haha.  The last couple of days have been busy ones.  Since I last wrote we have stayed in a few new places, and visited a lot of new towns along Alaska’s coast.  We spent time in a town called Cordova, which was easily my favorite town on this trip.  It was serene, surrounded by snow capped mountains, and was full of rich history.  I loved it.  After that we took the ferry across Prince William Sound to Whittier where we stayed on a beach across the way from Mt. Redoubt (Which is the currently erupting volcano you may have heard about on the news here and there).  It was amazing, and I got a chance to swim on the beach, which was only a few steps away from our tents.  Here we learned about the massive coal beds, which lay underneath the Cook Inlet.  We also got a chance to look at the sediment layers, which are deposited underneath the basin, and we talked about post-1964 earthquake uplift in the area.  After staying outside of Whittier for a night we drove to the town of Homer where we caught the ferry to Kodiak Island.  During our time on the island we managed to fix a flat tire, check out volcanic ash and tsunami deposits, catch some fish, and go swimming in the Pacific Ocean.  Izzy alone caught over 30 rock fish in the river next to our campsite on the island.  Shabana managed to snag a halibut as well.  We took a trip out to the Kodiak Launch complex yesterday and talked about the hazards of seismic faults, which run parallel to this muti-million dollar satellite launch center (good planning on that one :/).  We also went to a place called Middle Bay today and dug up tsunami deposits from the waves that destroyed the area in the hours after the 1964 good Friday earthquake.  Back then Kodiak was ill prepared for such an event, and because of this people lost their lives.  Fortunately in the years following the earthquake the island set up warning systems for the shorline towns.  We heard them test the warning siren today while we were hanging out in Kodiak.  Now we are into the last few days of the trip, and most of us are excited to get home but sad to leave this place.  I feel like the trip has gone much too fast, and I can’t believe how the time has flown.  We have seen so many things, and taken in so many beautiful sights that I barely acknowledge the mountains that flank the ship as we chug along.  We only have a few days left here, but I am positive more amazing things are to come.  Until next time!


P.S. not many new animal sightings, just a ton of bald eagles, a few whales, and some puffins


Isabel Zellweger

Hi! Hi Everyone! So I believe our last blog was while we were staying at McKinley Cabin, so let me fill you in with what we have been up to!  On Thursday we explored the alganik slough and looked at the sedimentary stratigraphy of a bank. When we did that we discovered the rotating clay and peat layers. The clay represents the interseismic deposition (when there was slow subsidence) and there was a bit of running water. The peat represents cosiesmic uplift, the land was moved upward and there was vegetation. It was very interesting to look at these layers on the Alganik slough because they are a strong indicator of subsidence and uplift. Another indicator was at Hartney Bay when we compared the barnecels levels, which indicate how high the sea level was at that point. Hartney Bay being in Cordova experiences coseismic uplift. This was seen because the barnacle level from 1964 is much higher on the shore than today’s level. After Cordova we took the ferry to Whittier and headed down to Homer. On the way we camped in Ninilchuk,, which was very beautiful. We were very fourtnate to have Mount Redoubt right in front of us- what an amazing sunset! At Ninilchuck we all were very brave and took a dip in the ocean which was pretty cold! Over the next few days in Cordova and Kodiak we focused a lot on the formation of Alaska’s volcanic arc, forearc, and accretionary complex all due to the subduction of the pacific plate underneath the North American plate.  In Kodiak we also focused a bit on faults; we did a mapping project dealing with the faults along the Kodiak Launch Complex. This project was really interesting to do because it made us think about the formation of the patterns on the land. Many of us decided that there were four faults creating horst and graben topography. I will definitely├č say that Kodiak has been one of my favorite places on the trip so far- the weather has been absolutely perfect and it the scenery is absolutely beautiful. I am so fortunate to experience all of this. I am sad I have to say goodbye to all of this soon!  On another note, its bedtime now, so I have to go… Until next time!



Friday, July 3, 2009

More pictures! June 29-July 3

First night at Childs Glacier - just checking out the calving front.

Update from Cordova - June 29 - July 3

Palin announces her resignation at the end of July - the town's a buzz!!

Another update!  We are in Cordova for the afternoon to investigate the aftermath of the 1964 Earthquake - they had to relocate the harbour.  The students have a reported on their first few days on the Copper River Delta -very exciting stuff!  Keep the comments coming -they are very popular.

Liz Morgan

What a crazy past few days this has been. Since I’ve last blogged, we’ve been spending our time on the Copper River Delta, exploring it in all its majesty. As we were leaving the campsite from Childs Glacier we saw two U.S. Geological Survey workers collecting data from a station on bridge 340; they were measuring stage (height) of the Copper River as it travelled past the bridge. The one man, Tim Brabets told us that since 1970 the river has changed route and bridges that once had a lot of discharge now have nearly none. Other bridges now have more discharge than they know what to do with. This posses a threat of under cutting the bridges that were not designed to uptake that much stress. Tim took us through a cornucopia of steps on how the stream is gauged and how those measurements are calculated through conversation standards, which in turn are published in professional papers by the USGS. The gauge itself weights 150 lbs, about 100 times more than the instrument we use at school during labs to measure local rivers and creeks! Both men were wearing really cool hats. People in Alaska are really polite and almost always ready to strike up conversation. We’re going into town tomorrow and then off to another ferry. This trip gets better and better every day.

Tyler Izykowskis

Well well, we meet again… So after we left Squirrel Creek Campground, we travelled to the city of Valdez. We visited the original location of Valdez, which was destroyed in the 1964 earthquake by a local tsunami, before arriving to the new relocated city of Valdez to catch a ferry to Cordova. On the three-hour long ferry ride, I caught some Z’s and then helped the United States Forestry Service Ranger teach little kids about glacial processes. It seemed a bit over their heads but the ranger gave me an "I heart the Chugach" pencil and a lollipop so it all worked out. We anchored in Cordova and drove along the Copper River Highway where we saw our first bear, a huge grizzly bear chilling on the side of the road, before arriving at our campground directly across the river from Child’s Glacier. This was most excellent because the glacier calved what seemed like every five minutes and echoed through the campground as massive chunks of ice sheered off into the Copper. We spent the next day mapping the substrate composition of the glacier and old Copper River basin. We had an awesome dinner of quesadillas down by the river and watched the glacier continue to calve. Definitely a memorable experience! The next day we pulled up stakes and left the campground for the McKinley Trail Cabin about 30 miles away. We looked at the Million Dollar Bridge on our way and talked about how it was misaligned when it was restored 40 years after it was destroyed in the 1964 earthquake. It’s been pretty sweet so far here at the McKinley Lodge, stuffing 10 people into a four-person cabin like some kind of cornucopia of geoscience love. We spent today looking at stratographic sequences and taking tree core samples in the Alaganik Slough to understand the response of the landscape to seismic uplift and subsidence. We’re spending part of the day tomorrow in the town of Cordova and then leaving Saturday for Whittier. Woo, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Taylor LaBrecque

Since the last time we blogged… I SPOTTED THE FIRST BEAR!  We were on our way to Child’s glacier campground and were told to keep our eyes open because we were in “bear country”.  Sure enough about a half hour from the campground we saw our first bear, which was so much larger than I ever could have imagined. It sat patiently across the lake as we took pictures and videos of it. It was definitely one of the most exciting events on this trip so far, because bears are by far my favorite animals. Child’s Glacier also turned out to be pretty amazing. Our group spent hours watching it calve off into the Copper River. In 1993 there was such a large piece of ice that fell from the glacier that it created a 30 ft wave. This wave took out most of the campground we were sleeping on. Watching the calving glacier consistently mesmerized us for hours each night before we retired to our sleeping bags. It was tough to leave that campsite, even though the mosquitoes were so threatening that I had to bring out my mosquito mask. Today we spent our entire day in the Alaganik Slough taking a cornucopia of tree core samples. This was really interesting; from the cores we could get insight into how the trees in the area responded to seismic events such as uplift and subsidence. It was really cool to be able to compare the cores to see how the 1964 earthquake affected the trees differently. I’ve been learning so much on this trip and I can’t wait to see what’s up next.

Ben Carlson

After a fun and fantastic few days since our last blog, I’ve got a lot to catch up on. On our way to Childs Glacier, we spent a day in Valdez (yes the same Valdez of the famous oil spill in the late 80’s) before taking a ferry to Cordova and onto Childs. Despite Valdez being a huge oil port, the town is nothing of note, a typical medium sized town that relies heavily on fishing. You really get a sense for how small the Alaska population is (~600,000). Upon reaching Childs Glacier, we completed our second mapping project by mapping different sediment deposits left by the Copper River. We found that the river’s banks used to extend far beyond their current reaches and that runoff from the top of the glacier had created its own river channels after the Copper had shrunk; all this from looking at dirt! Both on our drives and campsites, the cornucopia of wildlife continues to amaze. We saw our first grizzly bear, which, despite its cuddly looks, was one of the most impressive creatures I have ever laid eyes on. We’ve also seen a number of bald eagles (as Garver says, they’re like crows up here) and the fish continue to fly, at least at Garver’s lure J. It seems like just yesterday that I was thinking how many awesome days I have ahead yet I’m already wishing it would never end. I’m still itching to get to Kodiak and there will be more adventures than I can count to come for sure. But until then, I’m just lovin life in the great north!

Isabel Zellweger

Hi! Hi! There have been many things we have done since our last blog. After Squirrel Campground we traveled down to Valdez. On the way we stopped at Old Valdez, which was pretty cool to see. Old Valdez was a city that was destroyed by a local tsunami caused by the 1964 earthquake. In Valdez, before we got on the ferry to Cordova we got to take our showers and do laundry…very nice. After an enjoyable 3 hour ferry ride we arrived in Cordova and drove to Childs Glacier. Being at Childs Glacier was pretty remarkable because we got to watch the glacial processes of caving. Childs Glacier actively caves because the Copper River erodes into it. The Childs Glacier advances about 200 ft per day, so this caving is pretty important or else our campground would have been covered by ice. The next day we did a mapping project on Childs Glacier dealing with the past route of Copper River. On Wednesday we left Childs Glacier and had a short drive to McKinley Cabin on the Alaganik Slough. Today we explored the Alaganik slough and took many tree core samples to see the effects of the 1964 earthquake on the growing patterns of sitka spruce trees. Also, thanks to Taylor we saw our first bear! Very exciting! 

PS- I’m learning a cornucopia of new country songs! HOT DIGITY DAWG!

Alex Connell

Hey again, I have been having a great time since we last talked. We have moved south to Cordova. During the trip we crossed over the beautiful Chugach Mountain range. This range has risen over millions of years from the pacific tectonic plate subducting beneath the North American plate. This subducting also creates massive earthquakes in excess of 8.0 approximately every 300 years. This last happened in 1964 during the great Alaskan Earthquake, this massive earthquake created a cornucopia of problems for Alaskan residents from tectonic shaking, to massive tsunamis. The effects of this earthquake really hit home when we went to old Valdez, which was completely destroyed by a tsunami created by the 1964 earthquake. Seeing the foundations of the buildings was quite spooky and made me realize the serious geologic dangers Alaskans face. We are now on the Copper River looking at soil horizons and tree cores in order to understand how these tectonic events affect the landscape and vegetation in this area. Next time I talk to you I’ll be in Kodiak!

Ed Milde

Hey Guys!  The trip has only gotten better since the last time I wrote.  So far we have made our way down south to the shore.  We took an awesome ferry from Valdez to Cordova.  We passed by the Exxon Valdez spill site, which was a little sobering to see even though the effects weren’t visible anymore.  We spent two nights at the Childs Glacier campsite.  This was easily my favorite part of the trip, mostly because on our way into the site we spotted a grizzly bear across a pond chilling along the rode.  We got incredible pictures and must have watched it for 10 minutes before it finally walked into the woods.  Then we set up camp right across the river from Childs Glacier.  This glacier is special because it terminates directly into the Copper River.  So as the glacier flows out daily huge chunks of ice calve off of the glacier as the quickly flowing river eats away at the constantly advancing ice face.  Spent hours just watching humongous faces of ice slam into the Copper River right before our eyes.  When we went to sleep there was one so big that our tents shook.  We had to set up camp further inland instead of camping right across the river from the glacier because apparently in 1993 the calving ice created a wave 30 feet high.  As you can see the trip has been incredible, and it just keeps getting better.  I am getting to know everyone very well, and I love sharing this cornucopia of experiences with such a great group of people.  Like always I hope everything I going well wherever you may be.  I’ll talk to you again soon when we are on Kodiak.  Later guys!

p.s.  18 Moose, 8 Bald Eagles, 1 Caribou, and 1 BEAR!  haha (For Now)   

Shabana Hoosein

Oh hey there guys! Everything is great here in Alaska! We’re going on our 14th day tomorrow. These past days have been pretty intense in terms of learning. We’ve worked on our second mapping project at Childs Glacier and today we spent the whole day coring trees. Its so surprising to see how different all of these places are in Alaska. We’ve only been to two different campgrounds on the coast so far, but they are distinctively different. Child’s Glacier was…well, a glacier! Regardless, it had a lot more rocks than I had expected. There was a crazy amount of mosquitoes on the campgrounds too. Right now we’re by the Alaganik Slough, which still has a good amount of mosquitoes (not as many as before though). The land composition is swampier and muddy/clay-like here. Its swampy here because its experiencing interseismic deposition. So basically, the land jerked up during the 1964 earthquake and it is now slowly subsiding. As it subsides water gets drained back into the soil, making it more like clay and less likely for vegetation to survive in it.  Both places are still absolutely breath taking. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Child’s Glacier was calving approx. every 15 minutes and the swampy waters of the Alaganik Slough are bright turquoise. I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to come out here and really indulge in the simple, but true beauties of the world. I know that there is a cornucopia of great beauties to come! Next stop Kodiak Island!

-Shuh Bang, Shuh Bop Bop, Shabana J

Tyler Willey

Hey all! So I am currently out of breath after outrunning a park ranger in the woods with Ben for our expired/lack of fishing licenses.  Don't worry we were successful in finding Garver who showed us some new findings that related to our tree coring exercises we did today along the Alaganik Slough, and by the time the ranger found us and talked to Garver she didn't even question about our licenses. So, we are currently staying in a (very small) cabin along the Alaganik Slough and spent the day coring trees to see if the uplift caused by the 1964 earthquake put stress on the tree growth, or if it allowed for new habitats to be formed.  Besides coring the trees we also examined sediment layers to see the periods of uplift (coseismic events), and periods of subsidence (interseismic events). Our days before arriving at the Alaganik Slough were spent mapping how Child’s Glacier and the Copper River have interacted together and changed over the years.  Child’s Glacier was way different then the other glaciers we have visited in the sense that it sounded like we were getting a constant thunderstorm at our campsite due to huge chunks of ice calving and crashing into the river. Upon climbing the glacier for mapping there were huge crevasses and it proved difficult to walk very far onto the glacier around these cracks. The only downside to the beauty and fun we have had at these sites is the cornucopia of mosquitoes and gnats that are constantly biting you inside and outside the cars and tents.  Well, only 2 more nights of these intense bugs before we finally head off to the highly anticipated Kodiak Island (Big Fishing supposedly!!).

Catch y’all laters!

-T-Dubs Willey

Marisa Kwoczka

Greetings everyone! So far I have been having a blast here in Alaska! I can’t believe we have been here two weeks! After our group left Squirrel Camp ground, we arrived at Child’s Glacier at the Copper River. We were able to observe the glacier caving right in front of us! Every time a chunk of ice fell, it sounded like a tremendous thunderstorm. Child’s Glacier moves about 200 feet a day but the Copper River runs through it preventing the glacier from entering our campsite. On Tuesday we hiked part of the glacier and did a topographic map of the surrounding area. We left Child’s Glacier on Wednesday and made our way towards the Alaganik Slough and the Chugach National Forest cabin. Around here, we have been taking tree ring samplings and have continued to study the after affects of the 1964 tsunami. We have come across a cornucopia of insects while being in the Copper River Delta, the Alaganik Slough, and the Chugach National Forest. The mosquitoes are killer! I am really excited to go to Kodiak in a couple of days so talk to ya when we are on the ferry!