It’s been long as, let’s catch up!

Well I’ve been pretty slack with this blog thing lately… There’s no way I’ll do justice to most of the stuff that’s been going on, so how about we just do a quick, mostly photo-based run through of some cool NZ places I’ve been in the last several months?

Rangitoto: Auckland’s youngest volcano

It’s sitting out there in Auckland harbor…Auckland’s most recently erupted volcano (~600 years ago), looking pretty and green and just a bit intimidating. Could it erupt again? Not likely (as part of a volcanic field, it’s classified as monogenetic–that is, it’s one shot only by definition), but that’s actually a pretty intense academic debate that I’ll leave alone here. Lucky for me I just got to have a nice ferry ride over, a short climb to the top, and a walk through some cool lava tubes.

More Taranaki Fieldwork and the coldest night of my life

Did a few more fieldwork trips to Taranaki for a bit more sample collection back before winter began. Mostly little of note, but on my last trip of the season, I camped overnight on the way from Auckland to Wellington with the hope of collecting a few last samples. Let’s just say I slightly underestimated how cold it would get at night and ended up so cold that by 3am I couldn’t sleep anymore and had to sit in the car. Oops. Unbelievably clear and beautiful night sky, though, and I did get my samples, so not so terrible in the end!

Also messed around with some time lapses during the sunset. So you can see what it looks like for the sun to set in Taranaki on a clear day!

I continued down to Wellington afterwards to experiment on the samples I’d just collected–here’s what it looks like from my lab at the University of Victoria perched high up on the hill above the city centre.

A bit of Auckland regional geology

A few field trips, some uni-related, others just for fun to check out some cool regional parks with some cool rocks.

Tongariro Fieldwork

I never pass up a chance to help out a fellow PhD student with fieldwork, which meant I took a couple trips down to Tongariro National Park to help out Mia, one of the other PhD students in the department who is researching the last several thousand years of tephra deposits from Tongariro volcano. We did a lot of driving around–it’s important to learn what deposits from each of the volcano’s eruptions look like (many of them have distinctive characteristics) and then identify those deposits in as many locations as possible.

Here’s an example of what we do when we investigate an outcrop–mostly walk around pointing at stuff, discuss things, take notes (in superspeed!).

Coromandel

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few friends come visit me in NZ already. And when they do, of course I take them to see something geological! Recently my friend Katherine stopped by Auckland during her trip to NZ from the US. We took a trip out to the Coromandel Peninsula to see Cathedral Cove. It’s a pretty sweet collection of arches and sea stacks formed from millions of years-old ignimbrite deposits (volcanic deposits resulting from huge pumice-filled eruptions).

Vanuatu…just a peek!

I mentioned not passing up a chance to help with fieldwork…that goes double when I get offered a chance to travel to do it! My officemate, Ben, is living in Vanuatu for three months monitoring Yasur, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. In September I got to go help him…and to see my first eruptions. That’s a YUUUGE moment for a volcanologist! I’ll try to do a whole post on that later, I certainly have enough photos!

The Pinnacle of Kiwi Adventuring

There’s so much to explore on the North Island alone, let alone all of New Zealand, and I’ve only scratched the surface, but I’m doing my best dammit! Since I haven’t yet reached the workload I had during a lot of my master’s (mostly since I have no data to analyze or samples to run yet), I can still get away fairly often to see new things.

A few weekends ago I went with a group of friends to do a tramping trip on the Coromandel Peninsula, a pointy bit of land on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf from Auckland (in theory you can see one from the other in good weather). There’s lots of spiky-pointy-mountainy bits there and some good trails for hiking.

We got a bit of a late start, but it was okay because our goal was just to hike in to the Pinnacles Hut for the night and then to actually see stuff the next day. It meant a bit of hiking in the dark, but the trail is pretty well maintained and we had head torches, so it wasn’t too bad, more long than difficult–took us around four hours to get to the palace of a hut–bunks for up to 80 people, gas stoves, and more! Did I mention the hut system in NZ is awesome?

When we got to the hut, we already had some lovely nachos for dinner waiting for us, courtesy of chefs Tim and Manu who ran ahead to start cooking since the rest of us were making slow time. Talk about tramping in luxury! We passed around some chocolate (an absolute necessity for tramping) and tea (and other stuff…) and had deep discussions about geology.

The next morning, we got up nice and early to see the sunrise from the top of the Pinnacles. It’s only about a 45 minute trek from the hut to the top, but it’s a lot more difficult than the previous night’s hike–lots of ladders and tight spots and big rocks to climb over. A combination of head torches and the slowly brightening sky made it a bit easier.

At the top, the view was pretty nice. There were a few different spots to look from, perched up on a rock, out on a ledge, out on another ledge. We got to see the valleys and peaks light up as the sun rose over the Pacific Ocean.

I did a bit of climbing around myself to get all the different views. The pinnacles themselves are somewhat eroded volcanic plugs, so there’s a mix of volcanic stuff left over, ignimbrites, etc. If you want to know more you’d have to ask a specialist.

It seemed like pretty much everyone in the hut got up for the sunrise. Good on ya, peoples!

It was fun to look around an imagine Led Zeppelin playing one of their Lord of the Rings-y songs.

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Tadaa!

After that, there wasn’t that much else to do, just head back down to the hut and collect our things.

After that, we headed back out, over bridges, down rocky staircases, over streams, and back home.

Actually, it was kind of nice to get back from a trip in the afternoon for once instead of late after midnight like usual.