September 6, 2012

Field work: Accomplished

Posted by Austin Elliott

I’m back! …from my fourth and “final” field season in western China. I spent a month on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, hunting around in the dirt for evidence of past earthquake ruptures. Fortunately the Altyn Tagh fault is a pretty big deal, so there’s plenty of geologic history to scrape out of it.

Scrapin’ the history out of the Altyn Tagh

Theoretically I’ve collected all the maps, surveys, geochron samples, and frantically scribbled thoughts about fault dynamics that I need to successfully complete this PhD, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the generous collaboration of colleagues at the China Earthquake Administration and its local branches, in particular this year Shao Yanxiu who was an essential pair of extra field hands and was pretty clutch at handling logistics too.

Shao Yanxiu stands at the edge of the Tarim basin, where the Tibetan Plateau slides past to the left, along the Altyn Tagh fault, which runs straight up the center of the image before kinking rightward in front of that icy peak.

So, acknowledgements out of the way, I’ll get to the nitty gritty of my field work and the sorts of things I see/saw/hope to understand, in another post. There may also be some [post-]travelogue-ing. For now: I’m back, and hopefully I’ll settle into a more regular pattern of posts. There are plenty of topics I’ve been dying to scribble about, but preparation for [and] a month in China has pushed the blog to a back burner. More quake stuff, coming right up!