Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Field Trip to the Belwin Conservancy

Last week, Clara and I had the chance to accompany Dan Hornbach, one of our professors, on a visit to the Belwin Conservancy. The conservancy focuses on outdoor environmental education and is a site for ecology and conservation-based research as well. We went there to install a piezometer, which, put simply, is a device that lets you measure the pressure of groundwater. With multiple piezometers, it is possible to look at the motion of groundwater and see whether it is coming up or going down. Our trip was a little unusual for us because wetsuits weren't part of our uniform; it was a wader day! 

Installing a piezometer was pretty straightforward: we used a post driver to pound a pipe into a creek, and, once it was far enough into the ground, slid in the piezometer (which is basically a pipe with a mesh-covered end in the ground so water can get in but sediment stays out). 

Clara and Dan taking some initial readings from the newly-installed piezometer while rocking the wader look. 

Once we got some initial readings from the new piezometer, we took readings from other ones that have already been installed. We also downloaded weather and water temperature data from stations around the conservancy.  Dan teaches an aquatic ecology course in the fall, and is planning to use some of these data for the course.  Clara and I are actually enrolled in the class, so we were excited to get a sneak peak of what fun things we'll get to learn about!

Maya taking water depth readings. 

Our visit to the Belwin Conservancy was a great opportunity to learn about groundwater and try something new for a day, but we're back to work on mussels, sediment, and the Minnesota River basin! 

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