The first morning at our field site, I woke up with a dead phone and had no idea what time it was. Unzipping my tent to see if I was late getting up and fearing the idea that I missed out on breakfast, I froze upon seeing one of the most incredible sunrises of my life:
Thankfully, I realized I was not late for the breakfast and I was able to sit and enjoy that sunrise for at least an hour until it was served!
The next four days in the field were spent at the Gerelt Hoshoo Locality. It was located conveniently right behind our base camp and was divided into four sections. Unit 1 contained a significant amount of brachiopods, gastropods, cephalopods, rugose corals, and crinoid ossicles found in limestone beds. Units 2 and 3 mainly consist of dark greenish gray siltstones and shales interbedded with thin, but laterally continuous, limestones. Possible microbialite deposits are found at the base of unit 2. Unit 4 is characterized by a series of coarse sandstones and conglomerates with interbedded siltstones and shales that contain plant debris. The base of unit 4 contains a black siltstone/shale and soil horizon of coal hypothesized to represent the Hangenberg event and the D/C boundary.
On day one, I focused my time on collecting rock samples for zircon geochronology analysis. I took several samples from coarse sandstones found in unit 3 and 4.
Note the differences in rock hammers-the skinnier one was great in wedging out specific samples of rock (thanks grandpa!), but the thicker one (made for the hardest of metamorphic rocks) could literally annihilate any chunk of rock that I wanted to sample! (the metamorphic one is owned by Dr. Carmichael-the metamorphic petrologist!)
The second and third days were spent exploring more of the formation and mapping the area out in greater detail. We thought we had discovered a possible ancient river channel, and then we decided against this hypothesis and concluded our section might be overturned. But then we disregarded this hypothesis and concluded we were very uncertain about the true stratigraphy of the section- it would need to be studied in much greater detail (which is what we were there for after all…right?!). The fourth day was spent collecting any last minute samples we felt like we needed-and then packaging them all up to be shipped back to Appalachian State University.
We thankfully finished packaging and documenting all our samples before the BIG STORM came…
Dark clouds came rolling in around 5 pm that night. Both my professors advised me to go to my tent and “secure it down with rocks and boulders” to make sure it wouldn’t fly away. Thinking they were overreacting (I mean, we were in a desert…it’s not supposed to rain! There was no way this storm would be “big”…) I picked up a couple of large rocks near my tent and placed them on some corners of my tent-thinking that those few rocks would suffice to hold my tent down in the wind. Walking back to the ger, it wasn’t long until we all heard the roaring winds and rain pelting on the roof of the ger. After a couple of minutes, I peaked out the ger front door to find my tent completely collapsed in the rain.
Running to it, I sat in my tent, holding it up while I waited for the storm to pass (I was in shock from how strong this storm was. It was as if it was mocking me for doubting its potential!). After about a half hour, the rain let up and I got out to my tent to find a stunning rainbow, which was unfortunately surrounded by distant storm clouds quickly approaching-a second storm was coming (and I wasn’t about to underestimate this next storm)…
I put my passport in my pocket (I knew if my tent would fly away and I lost everything, I would still be able to get home as long as I had my passport!), and then I put quadruple the amount of rocks and boulders inside my tent to make sure it was secure enough. I then went back to the ger and waited until the second storm passed. To keep the ger from flying away, we ended up parking all of our vans in a circle around the ger to block the heavy winds from pushing it down.
The time was passed that night by bonding with everyone huddled in the ger. We sung traditional songs from our home countries-Russia, Spain, USA, England, Germany, Belgium, Mongolia, and more-while also telling funny stories about our lives. This was the night I was able to bond with everyone the most, and I realized I considered everyone to be part of one big family-even though I had just met them a week prior. It was a great night, and it turns out that we only lost our two shower tents to the strong winds (and everyone bathed in a river nearby anyway, so it was no big deal)! Never underestimate the potential of a rain storm in a desert…