Once the good news had settled in, Ninfa, Paul, Matt and I started a seemingly endless chain of emails and conference calls to work out all the details for the onshore field work. We needed to set up logistical arrangements for working out of a field camp on a remote Aleutian island. Our field camp will be at Bering Pacific Ranch at the abandoned WWII military base Fort Glenn, located on the eastern flank of Umnak island. Our tasks were to get a helicopter, about 50 barrels of helicopter fuel, all the seismometers and magnetotelluric instruments, and food and cooking supplies for about 160 person-days delivered by the start of field operations around June 20th.
How do we do that?
Well, the small city of Dutch Harbor, conveniently located about 100 km away on neighboring Unalaska Island, is a major fishing and shipping port. So we made arrangements to get things shipped from the lower 48 up to Dutch Harbor and then have it all consolidated and taken over on a small ship that can land on the beach near Fort Glenn. Then two ranch hands will transport it from the beach to the camp. Easy, right?
We divided up the various planning tasks among our team members. Paul worked on finding us a good deal on a helicopter, fuel and pilot, Matt contacted the Bering Pacific Ranch about staying there, Ninfa arranged for the seismic gear rental from PASSCAL and I looked into finding a ship to transport the gear from Dutch Harbor to Fort Glenn, among the many planning tasks we all took on.
Organizing the food and cooking supplies turned out to be a more demanding task than it initially sounded. We have 9 people coming to the field camp for various lengths of time, amounting to about 160 person-days (an useful unit of measurement when planning how much food to bring). At Bering Pacific Ranch we will be staying in what they refer to as the camp, which is a spartan bunk house with a kitchen trailer and bath and shower trailer attached. So while we will be in a super isolated remote location, we won’t exactly be roughing it – that should be the case as long as the hot water, oven, stove and refrigerator are working as the ranch has promised. That means that we can plan to cook somewhat normal meals.
After numerous Costco and Trader Joe’s runs, as well as seemingly endless deliveries of supplies from Amazon Prime, we filled up fourteen 27 gallon tote boxes of food and cooking supplies, as well as several more totes with the Scripps land MT instrumentation and field supplies. In addition to the Zonge Zen data loggers, induction coil magnetometers, electric dipole wires and electrodes, we had to pack things like survival gear so that we could survive in the field for a couple of days should the helicopter not be able to pick us up from a field station due to weather or mechanical problems. After everything was packed, we palletized the gear, shrink wrapped it and loaded it on a flat bed truck that drove it up to Seattle. From there it was loaded onto the Coastal Navigator, which ferried it on to Dutch Harbor, arriving on May 23.
That was just the stuff coming from Scripps. The USGS shipped a bunch of gear from Anchorage, 12 seismometers were shipped from PASSCAL in New Mexico, and 1525 pounds of batteries to power the seismometers for a year were shipped from the manufacturer CEGASA. All this stuff was received and held by Aleutian Expeditors. This past week it was loaded onto the Island Packer and ferried over to a makeshift dock at the beach near Fort Glenn. Then some of the ranch hands took it on a truck over to the ranch. Now it is all awaiting our arrival by air in a couple of weeks. We would have preferred to ship everything over to the island at the same time that the science team arrives in mid-June, but the Island Packer and ranch hands were only available this week so we had to rush the delivery.
Our team put in a lot of work coordinating all the various pieces of the shipment to the island, so it’s a big relief to have it completed successfully. The last pieces of supplies for the land field work are Paul’s land MT gear and fresh and frozen food we will get in Dutch Harbor, all of which will be flown over with the first science team arriving at Fort Glenn.
By comparison, preparing for the marine part of the project was relatively straightforward since we’ve done that many times before, and Jacques, Jake and Chris in the Scripps Marine EM Lab took care of most of that work. We’ve been assigned ship time on two ships, the RV Thompson for the deployment cruise and the RV Sikuliaq for the recovery cruise. The ships’ crews take care of all the ship logistics, so all we needed to do is get our marine MT gear and the science team to Dutch Harbor in time to load it on the ship. Actually, we lucked out and the RV Thompson was in port in San Diego for a few days in early May, so we loaded our three 20′ containers of marine MT gear onboard, saving the cost of having to ship it up to Dutch Harbor. However that savings was entirely offset by having to buy three new shipping containers and to pay for their storage in Dutch between the cruises, but at least we now have 100% certainty that the marine MT gear will arrive in Dutch Harbor with the RV Thompson. We did have to ship the concrete anchors separately, and those went up to Dutch with the food totes and land MT gear.