Mexico week 19 – A Lavaly Day

This week we spent another couple of days in the field. The CIIV FLYSPEC has decided to behave itself again, so we thought we’d better collect some data before it changed its mind!

We based ourselves at the village of Juan Barrgan for the two days. On day one, we split into two teams; two people remained in the village to collect SO2 flux data, while the other two of us climbed up onto the 1790s lava flow.

On the lava flow, our aim was to  measure the growth of lichen on the rock. By measuring the size of different lichen at various altitudes on the lava flow, it is possible to work out an approximate age for the flow. We are using the 1970s flow as a calibration study as the dates for the flow are known. This means that in future, we should be able to date other lava flows using this method. Getting onto the lava flow was a little more difficult than expected, fighting through thick jungle. We used this trip as a reconnaissance trip, making a plan for future work rather than trying to collect a lot of data due to time constraints.

The views from the flow were spectacular! At just over 2000m up, we could see across Jalisco and Colima. We also had a gorgeous view of the volcano, and the winding path of the lava flow all the way up to the crater.

In the evening, we returned top the village to set up camp. The villagers are very aware of the volcano, living close enough to be evacuated during high levels of activity. The alert level displayed in the community centre serves as a permanent reminder of the potential hazard posed by the volcano they live beneath. Everyone was very friendly, coming to chat, bring us firewood and even offer us a beer. In return we offered marshmallows to toast on the campfire. It was a fantastic evening, and we’re so grateful for the kindness that was shown while we did our work!

Day two, we set up our equipment to take some morning measurements before the cloud covered the volcano. With our data collection done, we packed up and headed back to Colima to process the data.

I have also started to write my leaving report, and to finish up my work ready to leave CIIV. I only have one more week in Colima before I start my journey home. I’m a going to be sad to leave, but I also can’t wait to see my friends and family after 5 months away!

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