Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tree Hugging!!!

We are working very long days--breakfast is usually at 7am and we work until dark around 8pm.  Yesterday, Justin and Liz spent the day collecting more Tamarugo cores, while the rest of us sampled wells near La Calera.  We met up in the evening for some wonderful Chilean hospitality.  We were hosted by Marco and his sister Roxanne at their eco-camp called La Huarenga.  After getting a tour of the amazing facility, we enjoyed an impromptu meal of walnut pasta (Sue's favorite meal of the trip!).  Then...back to work.  In order for Liz and Justin to understand how Tamarugo trees responded to water availability in the past, they must assess how they are growing today: this is essentially uniformitarianism, which means the present is the key to the past.  To understand how the trees are growing, Liz and Justin installed dendrometers on two trees and one miniature weather station.  The dendrometer will measure tree diameter and is useful for estimating a tree's growth rate, while the miniature weather station will record air temperature, relative humidity and soil moisture, which may help explain the tree's growth rate.
Marco showing his solar cookers--the one on the left can reach 450C!!!

Marco is a retired geologist and has a wonderful collection of fossils.  Here, he is showing us a gigantic megaladon tooth.

Justing and Liz installing a dendrometer, which is a steel band that hugs the tree.  As the tree expands, the steel band pulls on a measuring device.

The days are long.  Here, Liz and Rick are collecting Tamarugo leaf samples as the sun sets.