From Russia, with love...

We left home 23rd of August, the journey went all nice and smooth. We called the day in a nice sushi restaruant in St.Petersburg.

On Monday the 24th, we met our Russian colleagues at Herzen State University. Our field companions Valery Shebotinov, PhD student and field assistant Alexei met at the university and we started to prepare the luggage to bring to the airport and fly to Syktyvkar, in the middle of our field area. The afternoon was quite hectic and check-in to the domestic flight was really stressful with serious overweight of our luggage (115 kg)! We arrived late in Syktyvkar and ?slept? in a quite ?minimalistic apartment that Valery had rented for us.

The next day, Tuesday 25th, we ran errands, shopping food and met colleagues from Moscow University and Russian Academy of Science. Natalya from Moscow University promised to join us in the afternoon and show some interesting sites. We first looked at a probable Saahlian (Moscowian) till overlaid by fluvial sands. A long car ride on bumpy roads took us to a section on the banks of Vychegda, where Eiliv, Astrid and Maria had worked in 2006. We had a quick look on the section and then we set camp in increasing amounts of mosquitoes and rain!


Section loggin´ in 06020

On Wednesday we continued working in the section, logging and sampling. At lunch we were finished at the section and started a long drive into the easternmost areas of the field area. Our aim was to work in the Kuryador and M?joldino sections, which after work by Eiliv, Astrid and Maria, could hold key information of the supposed ice dammed lake in the basin. We passed many very exotic Russian villages on the way and did a couple of quick stops to buy the excellent Baltica beer! We set camp just outside of M?joldino in one of the sections and were seriously harassed by tons of mosquitoes!

Thursday, 27th was dedicated to the Kuryador section, an erosional remnant squeezed in between an old ox-bow lake and the Vychegda river. We had to be driven there by our competent driver Jevgenij, and then we had a bit of bushwacking through forest and swamplands. GPS waypoints helped us navigate the bush. After a first look we started the daunting task of digging and clearing the section from mud. Valery and Aurelien started logging, while Ola tried to get a GPS fix on the elevation of the river. The whole afternoon was then spent on densely sampling sediments which we believe have formed in a last glacial maximum glacial lake. Future will tell! Back in the M?joldino camp at around 19:00 were we had a good dinner. Alexeij turns out to be a good chef and base camp manager! Later in the evening we were kept awake by an impressive thunderstorm surrounding our little camp.


Load structures in Kuryador, deforming the White Sea Lake material.

On Friday 28th we decided to revisit some other of Eiliv et al., localities in the area. One site was particularly interesting since it is one of the very few bedrock outcrops we´ve seen.  Bedrock in the area is probably Cretaceous tufa with fossils and mineral grains cemented by lime/chalk. We found many such clasts in the sections we?ve been working in so far, together with other pebbles with more distant origin. Much digging work later in a handful of sections we came back to camp and had a late dinner in the twilight. The evening was cool and we could sense that autumn had arrived.

Saturday 29th started with a rainy night and a very wet morning. Our tents were soaked and had to be packed in a bad condition. Today we will try to reach what we believe is the most important pass-point, controlling the lake level in the proposed ice dammed lake. We travelled for several hours southeast to the Keltma river areal, all the way to roads end in the little village of Kanava. One local guy told us that small boats used to pass this area a long time ago, on their way from the White Sea in the north to the Caspian Sea in the south. Mind boggling to think that this very modest little place situated at only 132 m above sea level were connecting two seas so far apart! We had a look around in Kanava and tried to envision a huge ice dammed lake spilling over vast amounts of water here. We then started our long journey back towards Syktyvkar, but on the way we spontaneously stopped at an abandoned gravel pit, where we immediately found a very cool sequence of sediments. However, it was now late so we simply put up camp in the gravel pit and stayed until next morning.

Sunday 30th we continued working in the gravel pit. Based on the mainly fluvial sediments we found, we believe this site was situated above the ice dammed lake, within a channel possibly feeding into the lake. After finished logging, we finally started the real drive back to Syktyvkar. However, the trip turned out to be eventful. Just after one of the compulsory Baltica beer stops, we got a blown tire on the bumpy roads. This was easily fixed by Jevgenij, while the rest of us continued enjoying beer and taking pictures of poor Jevgenij under the truck. A couple of hours later we diverted from the main road back to one of our first localities, where Valery thought he had forgotten his camera. This was a long and tedious detour on very bad roads and as we?ve feared, just 500 m from our target, the truck got stuck in deep mud. We tried all tricks, pushing, pulling, and using logs and tree branches with little effect. Finally Jevgenij used his chain saw, took down a big pine, which we then used as a lever to literally lift the truck. Alexeij could then get a log under the sunken wheel and we could get the truck out of the mud. What a relief! We now really longed for a Hotel in Syktyvkar, where we arrived late and had an even later dinner. Bedtime at around midnight!


Taking it out of the sticky mud. Pine tree trunk against 4 ton truck. Trunk wins !

Monday 31th started with a late breakfast, we were all a bit beaten up by the last day?s adventures. After some internet work, cleaning and resting we went to see colleagues at the Geological Institute in Syktyvkar. Head of the Quaternary department, Lyudmilla N. Andreicheva, kindly received us, together with two of her younger colleagues. They gave us access to several very nice Quaternary maps, 14C dates and pollen data from the Kuryador area. Very valuable data indeed! We then had a guided tour through the geological museum and were shown all kinds of cool rock specimens, maps and photos! This has been a very product day despite not being in the field! The day ended with a long and nice dinner in the hotel restaurant.


Baltica beer for happy Quaternary Geologists after a good digging. The student is always the first to fall...

Postet av: Lena Rubensdotter

HeiVet inte nær ni kan læsa detta - måste sæga att fotona ser ganska gemytliga ut - man kan knappt tro på ryktena om stora mygg-lidanden ;-PTa det førsiktigt på vægarna och hælsningar från resten av fam Fredin.Lena

01.09.2009 @ 10:48

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