Thursday, 17 January 2013

Marshes, mud and crazy postmen

Since the last post, we've had a successful few days in Queule, Tolten and Rio Lingue (about 80km north of Valdivia). These locations lie on a wide coastal plain; subsidence of a couple of metres during the 1960 earthquake changed low lying but valuable farmland into waterlogged marshland. The tsunami swept up rivers and across the coastal plain, reaching several kilometres inland. As the area is so flat, with few safe higher areas, escaping the waves would have been difficult.

We collected lots of samples of sediment from intertidal marshes close to the mouths of the rivers that cross the plain. We're particularly interested in tidal marshes as they provide evidence for how the land or sea has changed in level over time. On a positive note, we found some good sites and collected lots of samples. Unfortunately we seemed to spend a lot of our time watching the tide go up and down, sometimes until it got too dark to actually see what we were doing!

Ed at Queule with sediments that we think
were deposited before and after the 1960
earthquake and tsunami

We've also been back to Valdivia and sampled a marsh on Isla del Rey, an island in the Valdivia Estuary. We're pretty pleased with the samples from here, not just because we found a good site, but also because we managed to get to the site in the first place! First we needed to find a boat to take us there, then were trapped and had to escape from a very talkative postman on the island (who wanted to tell us everything from the entire history of Chile to the material used to surface the road in response to us asking who owned the land), and finally we needed to get a boat back. The latter proved to be the most tricky, but it seems in Valdivia it's possible to hail a boat like you hail a taxi!


  1. You will be interested in our interviews of survivors from the 1960 tsunami, in Mehuin and Queule in particular. I have a transcription. In fact, I am in Chile, about to travel to the Bio Bio region. I am not doing research on this trip, other than observing effects from 2010. My contact at this time:

    Hola to Marco Cisternas Vega, tambien.

  2. [I also have field notes, but back in Seattle]