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Jun 5, 2013

HERACLES: Archeoseismology in Tiryns, Greece, Year 2

T-3 days and counting to take-off. Okay, geophysical field work is not as exciting as going into space, granted, but for a solid earth geophysicist, the earth's surface - and near surface - is not only The Final Frontier, it's the only frontier. Planetary, oceanic and atmospheric geophysicists - your frontier (and mileage) may vary.

The pile of things we have to load into our departmental VW Caddy is growing by the minute. Literally. Saturday we will hit the road, driving first from Bensberg, Germany to Ancona, Italy (it's where the calf bulges out on Italy's boot). Getting on the car ferry. Then after debarking from Patras, Greece, driving the rest of the way to Tiryns where we hope to arrive on Sunday evening (and immediately descend on Scuola, our favorite Italian restaurant - even if it is in Greece, they have the best Caesar salad I've ever had in Europe).

Last year we had a monster Mercedes van from the Sonderforschungsbereich 'Our Way to Europe' of the Uni Cologne. It even had the motto, 'Our Way to Europe' painted on the side. Given the shaky nature of European relations at the time, we covered it up with our magnetic, Erdbebenstation Bensberg sign, hoping that wouldn't incite the Greek natives to come at us with pitchforks and torches quite as much. This year we're leaner and meaner since we're not taking the seismic refraction equipment with us. The passive seismic stations are still in Greece from last year where they've been recording local events for the past nine months, powered by battery and solar panels.

Our work this year will mainly be concentrated in Midea (we hope - we still haven't gotten the permission to work there - ah, Greek bureaucracy!), another fortified palace ruin on its own hill about 7 km northeast of Tiryns. (updated: we got the permission today - T-2 days. Do they read blogs there?)

The excitement (and the terror) of this year's field work is that we have purchased a differential GPS instrument that we'll be using for the first time in Tiryns/Midea and we'll be 'test driving' our new (also leaner and meaner) 3D laser scanner. Most field geophysicists are uniquely suited to these kind of experiments that I call, 'let's take a bunch of new equipment we've never tested before and go out in the field.' That's not because we're so smart, it's because we're flexible. We have to be. When you have cables and electronic devices and sensitive instruments, combined with weather extremes, precipitation and the unknown variables that always come into play during a measurement, something always goes wrong.

But it pays to be philosophical (translate: stock up on ouzo and Retsina and Mythos).

This is a big reason to look forward to the end of the working day at Tiryns.
 Our measurement plans this year include gravity measurements - this time with an ambitious plan to extend a profile from Tiryns to Midea - passive seismic (H/V), Transient electromagnetics (with a Greek colleague), and the laser scanning.

Dida from Tiryns
Käse from Anthemion House

Barbara from Midea
Our Greek colleagues from the animal world will be waiting for us as well. (Note to self: don't forget the dog and cat treats).

I'll be posting on our progress (with pictures) on the journey to Tiryns (it will be my first time to cross the Italian Alps) and, time permitting, on the measurements.