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> July 29 Kunashir and Iturup Isla (part 2), or A couple of quiet days
post Jul 31 2006, 08:22 PM
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July 29 – Kunashir and Iturup Isla
or A couple of quiet days

***** Note home from Beth Martin follows today’s journal entry*****

Saturday, 29 July – Aboard the Gipanis, anchored offshore of Reydovo on Iturup Island
11:00 pm

This morning we woke up and were still heading toward the north end of Iturup. The plan was to anchor off of Kuril’sk or Reydovo and then for some people would go ashore to investigate a midden site. A midden is essentially an ancient garbage pile and can be a treasure trove for archaeologists. They can excavate the layers of shells, bones and other detritus to determine what kinds of foods people ate, tools they used, clothes they wore and other important cultural clues to how they lived.

The transit was longer than expected as we went around the northwest peninsula that separates Kuril’sk and Reydovo to anchor offshore of Reydovo. This positioned the ship closer to the midden site, so groups could go ashore by zodiac instead of traveling across land by car from Kuril’sk. Ben told everyone that this could be considered our “day off” and that we could either go ashore to see the midden site – which was suspected to have been mostly destroyed by military activities, like many other sites on the southern islands – or stay on the ship and get other work done/relax. Beth, Matt, Dena, Mike, and Ben all went ashore to investigate the midden and James, Jody, Jesse, Bre, and I decided to stay on the ship. James worked on some of his own tasks and Jesse, Bre and I worked on cataloguing the soil samples that had been collected over the past week.

Documenting the samples entailed sorting the small packets of soil by date and location, making of master list of the samples by date, location, excavation name and depth in another notebook and then putting all of the samples from a single day or location into a larger, labeled Ziploc bag. After that, the excavation drawings had to be encoded to show from where the samples had been taken and the notes about each section were transferred to the master list notebook. We worked together to do all of the different steps as well as work on individual tasks such as me writing my journal and Bre doing some earthquake calculations for the Kuril Islands subduction zone.

At about 6:30 pm we heard the announcement that the zodiac was returning, so we started down to greet the shore group and to find out what they had been up to all day. On my way down, I ran into James coming back up saying “Anyone who wants to go to a Russian hot springs grab should grab their towel and shorts and come to the zodiac right away.” So grabbing my passport and towel, I quickly went downstairs.

When we got to shore, we were greeted by the captain. It turns out that Kuril’sk is his hometown and he was treating us to an excursion to the hot springs. We split into two groups and headed by car and mini-van about an hour’s drive along a very twisty dirt road up and into the mountains of Iturup. It was so beautiful! Hot springs are created when water seeps down into the rock and is then warmed by the volcanic hotspots in the hills. The smell of sulfur (rotting eggs) was strong in the air, but the white, yellow and red colors of mineral deposits on the hillside were incredible. There was steam rising from some of the rock and small to medium sized burbling mud pots all around – much like at Yellowstone National Park. A small steady flow of water had been diverted by a pipe into a large metal tub. The water was very warm and very relaxing. (See picture below – left)

We enjoyed ourselves for about an hour, getting in and out of the hot water and exploring the springs, and then we headed back to the Gipanis for a late dinner. We were treated to some tremendous sunset views of the volcanoes around Kuril’sk as we returned (see picture below – right). It was a most excellent, enjoyable, and well-deserved, day off.

Mrs. N-O

IPB Image
On the left: The hot spring above Kuril’sk on Iturup Island. You can see the water coming down the hillside – it spring right out of the rocks further up. You can also see some of the white, red and yellow mineral deposits along the banks. The water is heated underground by volcanic hotspots and then the minerals from the rocks are dissolved into it. As the water begins to cool above ground, the minerals solidify and precipitate out onto the surrounding rocks on the stream banks. (Image courtesy of Mike Etnier)
On the right: A view of Chirip, the 1580 m volcano that lies between Reydovo and Kuril’sk, at sunset.

Note Home from Beth Martin
Yesterday at the hot springs was wonderful. It smelled like home aka Yellowstone. There were mud pots and steaming fissures and bamboo but alas, no monkeys in hot tubs. They do not extend north of Japan. It is really beautiful here. There are so many volcanoes although there are many days where all I hear is “behind all that fog is a really big volcano.” I am having a wonderful time and getting along well with everyone. It is a good group of people. I haven’t been seasick yet despite not using medicine for about a week we have been staying in protected bays. Work has been good and I have gotten to dig a lot of excavations. I get to be designated digger because we left Tanya and Katya behind on Urup.
Happy late birthday and anniversary to Gram! Happy wedding to Alecia! Mom, I hope you are winning you battles with your doctors. Hope all is well. Love to all! Beth
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