Wednesday, 17 February 2016

A Thai field season in 90 seconds (+Video)

Kruawun Jankaew (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand), Evelien Boes (Ghent University, Belgium) and I have been exploring lakes and lowlands along the coast of Thailand for the last couple of weeks. Following on from my last post on our first couple of days, we've condensed the rest of the field season into less than 90 seconds of video...

Focussing on the coastline north of Phuket, we've been coring coastal lakes to uncover layers of sand left by the 2004 tsunami. We've been working from a small inflatable boat and recovering sediments from the bottom of the shallow lakes using a combination of Russian and gravity cores. Unfortunately the video below doesn't include any footage of us actually taking the cores - our focus was on keeping the boat upright as we retrieved some very long (and therefore unwieldy) cores. There are, however, plenty of frames of us inspecting some very nice cores, plus Evelien looking pleased with a long gravity core (0:34) and a very nice undisturbed sediment-water interface (0:35) There are a few shots of us chopping down trees - this was to provide us with fixed stakes that we could tie the boat to to prevent it drifting while we cored. There's lots of paddling too - we paddled numerous transects with an echosounder, mapping out the bathymetry of each lake.

As well as investigating tsunami deposits in lakes, we had time for a quick trip up to Phra Thong, a large and relatively undisturbed island with well-known evidence for the 2004 tsunami and for older predecessors. Here, the low lying swales between beach ridges hold sequences of light coloured tsunami sands, separated by dark brown organic soils. These probably constitute some of the clearest and most visually impressive sequences of past tsunamis anywhere in the world.

Our Phra Thong trench also threw up more animal surprises as we came across hibernating Asian swamp eels waiting out the dry season buried in the mud. This followed our earlier encounters with a king cobra (thankfully at a distance), a tarantula (with whom we probably shared our inflatable boat for several hours without us realising) and an assortment of biting ants and centipedes. We were always happier to see geckos, which helped to keep some of the insects in our hotel rooms at bay.

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