Monday, January 29, 2007

Crested Butte, Part 3!

This is exactly why I love my job sometimes.

We went to Crested Butte again, and went up to a mine site to install data-loggers...basically these boxes that record water level and electrical conductivity of stream water.

We installed them to monitor the amount of runoff coming from this mine site, since it has a lot of potential for acid mine drainage. The data loggers will take measurements every 15 minutes 24 hours a day to monitor the surface water activity at the mine site.

Since the area was snowed in, we had to use snowmobiles:

This is us getting ready to head up to the site. I'm on the right wearing the black coveralls, to my left is Chris (my coworker), and Christina - the EPA project manager.

This is a view Down-valley from the site. the big wooden box in the foreground is an orebox from the old mine. check out that clean unbroken snow! before us, no one had been up to the site in the winter. it was beautiful.

Here's me trying to take a water sample from the stream...and yes, the snow was waist deep. I tied a sampling bottle to the end of the pole in my right hand, and dug out the stream from under the snow with the shovel in my left. The site itself is at about 11,000 feet, and even though this has been a low-snow year for the crested butte area, it was still drifted very deep in places. Some drifts were as deep as 10-15 ft.

Here's a picture of the site from the trail when we were leaving. So pretty, so quiet, so peaceful. It was fun tear-assing around the site on a 2-stroke snowmobile.

This is what the data-logger system looks like. Its basically an electric panel on a post. On top of the electrical box is a solar panel for power (the solar panel is made by British Petroleum (BP) of all people), and a satellite uplink antenna. These systems are fucking ridiculously expensive...mainly because of the satellite uplink.

There's cord that runs from a flume (a little trough that sits in the river) to the electrical box. The electrical panel records the water level and the conductivity, then after a period of time, sends the data via satellite to a server. From there, we can sit-ass in the office here and download the data. kinda cool.

As I mentioned, we did quite a bit of snow-mobiling to get around on the site. Here's me getting ready to take off on one of these bad-boys.

Here's what one of the sleds looks like with 500 lbs of equipment on it.

Here's my co-worker Chris doing a burn-out on one of the sleds. Chris was an excellent rider, and showed me how to do a ton of really risky and unnecessarily dangerous shit on the snowmobiles.

Prior to this trip, I've never really been on one of these things.

woo-hoo! Here's me jumping the snowmobile. Luckily neither myself, or the sled was damaged. That was at the end of the day, after we installed all the equipment and had a few minutes to run around and enjoy the snowmobiles.

good times!


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