Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Day 4 - Unexpected visitors and the Greenhouse Experiment

Well today started with some unexpected action. The cheeky baboons have worked out how to get past the electric fence and decided the camp swimming pool was theirs, chomping on the berries as they went!

This was taken the evening before they found their way in. And on this occasion they were on the right side of the fence!

Today we were joined by GDC geologist Tito, who was able to provide us with a detailed site map showing all the wells and proposed well, making it so much easier for us to find our way around the maze of the caldera. 

On leaving the camp, we didn't get very far. The car decided it had enough of the bumpy roads and died. Two hours later after being propped up on blocks of lava, the car was back and on our way we went.

Poorly car!

The aim for today was to start mapping structural features such as faults and fractures that cut the north-west wall of the caldera. However, as is often the case with field work, we rapidly discovered that a serious rethink was needed. We drove over to the far side of the crater, heading to well MW-02 hoping a new access road had been constructed for the proposed well site in the area. This was not the case. Instead we were greeted by a 60 foot wall of very unstable lava flow that by all accounts is home to the rock python. It became apparent that he three main target areas for the caldera wall are completely in accessible! the rethink on this course of action is to map the wall from the outside looking in, though it will depend on access to private land. 

Even with my field assist as scale, this image doesn't do the flow height justice!

We were invited to a greenhouse project that GDC are running near to well MW-02. Two greenhouses have been set up, they are heated using the geothermal energy. 

In greenhouse one, there is a large tank with 3000 cat fish in that is kept at a regular temperature also using the geothermal energy. The excrement form the fish is filtered out of the tank. This is followed by extracting the ammonia from the excrement. This ammonia is then used in diluted form to water beans. The beans contain very high amounts of nitrogen whoch in turn is used to feed strawberry plants. Santana who is running the project estimates that by using this method, one strawberry plant could produce a yield of 2kg. Imagine, 2kg of strawberries form your plants at home! 

The home of 3000 cat fish

Nitrogen beans

Greenhouse two contained a crop of tomatoes and a crop of kale, split in to five sections for the purpose of feeding. Brine water rich in boron, is used in varying quantities diluted in water to feed the crops. The amounts are 100% water; 30% water, 70% brine; 50% water, 50% brine; 70% water, 30% brine and 100% brine.  ow the crops are almost fully grown, samples have been collected and sent away for analysis. It is hoped that one of the crops will show safe or even no boron present. If this is the case, brine water from the wells will be given to the local community to use for watering their crops, meaning the affects of dry seasons on crops will be greatly reduced. 

Boron fed crops

Following this, we returned to well MW-09 with Tito. We had been discussing how dark the lava flows are. They appear to be far to dark for trachyte, which is supposed to be the type of lavas in the caldera. However, after looking at drill cuttings through a microscope, it is very easy to see that the samples contain a very high percentage of feldspar.

Checking out the drill cuttings from well MW-09

Driving away from well MW-09, we noticed a surface emanation, steam rising from the ground. A trench in the soils measuring only 25cm deep had steam as warm as your bath rising out of it. Just shows how hot the area is!

Steam, the perfect temperature for a bath, rising from just 25cms depth

Read the next blog to see if I managed to find faults that could actually be measured and mapped! Lala Salama from Kenya!

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