Friday, August 1, 2008

Day 65--Have I Mentioned its Fracking Cold Up Here??

We've been kinda cruising through the summer, work wise, , and really haven't had much in the way of brutal weather--its always "chilly" but not un-doable or brutally cold, just gear up properly and you'll be fine but the last 3 days have been fracking COLD!! We had Tues, Wednesday in the lab and Thrusday they gave us the day off,totally--I lobbyied hard to have us go out to the point and at least check out the site on Friday, which drew more than a few nasty looks and one "You've moved to the top of my hit list!!"
See the pictures above to see what we saw on Friday morning, It is Fracking August 1st!! I know you guys down in California are *suffering* under 80 degree temps and no rain or wind, we, on the other hand have 31 degrees, 20-30MPH winds and fracking snow, not just a few flakes, but snow that stuck and gave us the situation you see above. I'll try to include more than the regulation 5 pictures the blog allows me to show the effects of the snow and erosion since last Monday, if i put two that have basically the same view , one is Monday and the second is Friday. The sea/pack ice moved back in and actually ptotected the shoreline to some degree. There are Gray Whales playing off the point. There were also frozen jellyfish on the beach this morning some up to 15" across. Once we got out there and took of the frozen tarp from the site, with its frozen 3" of ice all over it, the day went quickly and we got a lot done. We are all concentrated on the driftwood feature for the rest of the season, #1--because it is important, #2--the first winter storm will more than likely totally remove it, so this truly becomes a salvage project, with the goal to get out as much as possible and try to figure out what is going on, archaeologically. We know that it is a mixture of classic driftline, with storm tossed debris, BUT we also know that there was extensive human activity here AND it's old. The down side is that there is 1 1/2 meters of gravel covering everything, which is about ten billion tons and no heavy equipment to move it.
We're finding faunal remains, mainly caribou and seal, and birds; gut from seals(go figure how that preserves, but it does) coal,Worked wood, with toolmarks and obvious human intended usage, and hundreds of pieces of undiagnosable wood fragments ranging from 2' logs to tiny cottonwood bark fragments. We've shot in and recorded over 1100 pieces so far, and that does not count the "bucket shots" that gives a single designation to a 50CM circle and you pick up everything there and put them all in their own bag. Every individual numbered piece/artifact gets its own bag and if it's wood (98% is) it gets wrapped in tin foil. We've bought every roll of Reynold's Heavy Duty in Barrow--amounted to over $300 (Barrow prices)--Last friday Laura had a 1000 artifact cake made to commerate the event--we didn't actually hit it until Monday but still, for one 3M X 5M area it is a staggering number and the suprising thing is that it is nowhere near close to being done, every scrape of a trowel or brush of a brush brings up more. I'm currently working on a log that may or may not be a foundation piece, raw material or just plain driftwood-- who knows? It's about 10" in diameter and I've got 4' revealed with no end in sight--keep in mind that it is frozen fast in permafrost.

All in all a good day--only 10 burials so far, but the focus has changed to the driftwood as the burial area seems safe for the time being. Enjoy the pictures, be well, and quit complaining about how hot it is down there!
Lois--that last pair of gloves you sent me has saved me--I brought 7 pair with me and 3 have been trashed so far--that last good pair is my last good pair, the rest , which are essential are liners or lighter weight--Thanks for thinking of me--Matt's jacket is still the best of the 5 layers I routinely wear--

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