Project Blog

If you want to see more photos of past fieldwork, here is a slideshow.

17 February 2015.
It has been a couple of months since the last update, as much of the blog has shifted to facebook. However, we just came back from another 2 week trip to Indonesia. The highlights of the trip were a press conference in Jakarta to roll out the project, led by Satria Bijaksana, Nico Kanter (PT Vale Indonesia), and Bupati of Luwu Timur (local government). PTVI and the Bupati are providing much-valued logistical assistance and support to the project- without them this project could not happen. We also did a presentation of the project and University of Hasanuddin (Makassar), and had a great visit with students and faculty there. On the logistics side, we had a series of meetings with PTVI and local freight agencies to finalize plans for moving the drilling rig around. Imagine trying to truck a 13' tall drilling rig across tiny roads through small villages. We may have to have the local power company lift the power lines. But the bright side is everything is falling into place, from housing to boats to heavy equipment use. Now we just have to make sure that our research permits come through, always a challenge.
Here are a couple of links to media from our press conference in case you would like to check them out:

Kompas News

8 December 2014.
Well, this has been an exciting week, if you enjoy things like haggling with shipping companies over "drayage", differences between 8-Pin and standard chassis trailers, working through 600-entry budget sheets, and trying to finagle quotes from drilling mud supply contractors. If you think vigorous discussions with the contractor who works on your house is annoying, well, try this... When I started as a climate scientist, I never dreamed I would be doing this kind of work. Arranging for structural evaluations of bridges to determine whether they will support 220T cranes? But we are making progress, and everything looks on track to drill the first long lake sediment cores from Southeast Asia in 2015.

We wouldn't be able to do this without our friends at LacCore and DOSECC Exploration Services. Check them out!

20 November 2014.
And we're off!!!!!! It's been a whirlwind of logistical preparation over the past two months. We submitted a few hundred pages of research permit application to the Indonesian government on 1 October, and have been dealing with hundreds and hundreds of emails and paperwork to finalize plans for shipping, customs, cranes, trucking, and other logistical issues in the last month. But the Deep Lakes Drilling System shipped last Friday, and is now en route to Long Beach, CA for export. Let's hope the shipping strikes don't cause huge delays!


8 September 2014.
Satria and I have just returned from another whirlwind logistical planning visit to Sorowako, in which we traveled to Manado, Makassar, Sorowako, Jakarta, and Bandung in 8 days. We had a very good interaction with faculty and students at Sam Ratunlangi University in Manado, where we presented the project and met with project collaborator Gerald Tamuntuan. Much of the rest of the trip was centered around finalizing local logitiscal plans for the movement of freight and drilling operations in Sorowako. The plans are more or less set; now all that is needed is a huge pile of paperwork (MOUs, etc.) for importation of the equipment and the research permit application. Getting all of that set should occupy us for the next month.

9 June 2014.
I just got back from a logistics planning visit to Jakarta, Makassar, Sorowako, and Lake Towuti Indonesia, a whirlwind trip involving 12 airplane flights in 9 days. This is the 8th trip I have taken to Lake Towuti, and over the course of these trips we've developed the outlines of a plan for our drilling project. Developing a lake driling project is a very rewarding but very labor intensive effort. We have to figure out how to bring the ICDP/DOSECC Exploration Services Deep Lakes Drilling System into a very remote area in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Once there, we have to figure out how to put the drilling barge onto the lake using 100+ ton cranes and similar equipment, how to ensure a constant fuel supply, where to house 25+ scientists and other project personnel, and lots of other logistical problems, all the while getting high-quality on-site science done.

With that in mind, on this trip my co-conspirator Satria Bijaksana and I worked to develop a detailed plan for how to move our equipment to the lake shore, put the drilling barge in the water, and then house and transport 25 scientists doing their work. We have previously found a good place to launch the barge, which requires access by heavy equipment and 1-1.5 m water depths by the shoreline. We spent a lot of time working with local contractors to develop a plan to extend the gravel road at right into the lake to improve the reach of the crane to deep water.

Sorowako is a mining town and the local facilities and prices are constantly changing. We spent a lot of time going around to determine current pricing on hotels, fuel, boat usage, rental vehicles, forklift and light bank rental rates- everything you can think of. Luckily, the plans are coming together and pricing is in line with our original estimates (except fuel, which has doubled since I wrote my first project budget two years ago- ouch!).

Finally, we spent some time looking around for the best boats available on the lake to tow the barge and ferry people back and forth on the lake. There is a new big triple engine boat that certainly looks capable.

We often find ourselves doing things we never would have expected for this project. For instance, the crane we plan to use weighs 60 tons without counterweights. We are now evaluating the roads and bridges moving to Towuti to ensure that they can support that load. We're not engineers. But it is going to make us very happy to drill this lake, and we'll have completely new understanding of how and why tropical Pacific climate varies.

And of course, we ate lots and lots of rice.