A Knight In Shining Waders

Hello! Welcome back to my blog. I’ve had quite a first month at GOGA. After the initial orientations, trainings, and other various meetings, I donned my waders and got into fieldwork! 

I started with a scour chain survey. The survey begins with a topographic survey, where transect tape is stretched across a creek. A staff plate (which is essentially a tall ruler) is placed along the tape into the water at inflection points within the creek. The depth on the plate is recorded and graphed to produce a map of the cross-section of the creek.

Why is it called a scour chain survey? you might ask. Some chains were placed in the creek years ago that can be used to measure the sediment transport in the channel by measuring how far a point on the chain is from the transect stretched above the water. After finishing the topographic survey, we scanned the area with a metal detector in hopes of locating our chains. However, because of the heavy storm season we had at the beginning of this year, there was a lot of sediment transport in the river, meaning that most of the chains were buried pretty deep. To expose the tops of the chains, we had to dig in the bed of the creek. We plunged our shovels into the cold water, removing piles of sediment. With the briskness of the morning, this proved to be a very chilly experience. Frozen fingers aside, finding the chains was very rewarding. Seeing the glimmer of galvanized metal within the creek turbid from the stirring of the shovel sparked an excitement unlike any other. 

While on the topic of uncovering exciting things–me and a couple of colleagues were tasked with finding a groundwater data logger that had long been lost in a field of tall grasses, rushes, and sedges in Tennessee Valley. To get to the site, we had to push through a dense grove of willow, and then find our way to a GPS location in a bushy field of tall vegetation. Upon arrival, it became clear that finding this logger would not be easy. We cut through vegetation for hours, hunting for the PVC piping that the logger was stored in. After eating lunch, we decided that we could chop through one more patch of vegetation before considering a different approach. We gasped in amazement as we saw the top of the PVC after trimming the top of the patch. Relief washed over me as we removed the logger to download the data.

A notion that has been reinforced within me this past month is the importance of keeping my spirits high during fieldwork. When things don’t go as planned, the most important thing is keeping a positive outlook and uplifting one another–recognizing each other’s efforts and offering praise and thanks. I hope to further develop this aspect of myself as I move into this internship!

Thank you for reading! Check out these cool photos:

Note to self: Check the waders to make sure the boots are dry before bringing them to the field 🙁

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