|Thursday 19th September "to the crater and meet the press!"
Early this morning, the RDTF helicopters transport the NASA team to the crater site located off center and about 2 kilometers from the northern edge. The trail cutters were waiting and after the first landing they cleared a larger landing pad for the upcoming helicopters flights that were due in the afternoon. We chose to set up camp in the shade of the forest as opposed to the open savannah. Forest based soil pit digging commenced almost immediately after we landed. The magnetometer base station was established near a large tree just behind the camp. The first magnetic readings inside the crater were were taken by Gunther and PeterW who walked with the guide (Nelicio) along the trail towards the crater rim (~2 km). Safety measures were then established to prevent the loss of any members of the expedition no NASA personnel would venture outside camp without a native guide. Hereafter, the magnetometer team would consist of Gunther, Aaron and one or more trail cutters and/or guides.
The second helicopter drop in the early afternoon brought in Allen and the Journalist Team of Victoria Bruce (who would write an article for National Geographic Adventure magazine), photographer Carlos Villalon and Alfredo Rodriguez of El Deber (a daily Bolivian newspaper). By now the camp is set and the smiling David samples his dinner of rice-beans-onions and salty beef jerky.
TimK gathered all the trail cutters and the native guides to describe what the expedition hoped to accomplish. Using Landsat images and topographic maps goals were established and roles identified. Next came the construction of the crater-site work and planning area that provided shelter from the sun and rain alike. Starting with a support structure built from the trunks of small trees a 20 foot square blue plastic tarpaulin was stretched taut over the top for a roof and attached via rope guidelines to the ground with stakes. This became the Crater social center. Inside we prepared and ate meals, sent information to the web via the INMARSAT, charged the batteries, drank coffee and had after dinner entertainment from the Dave.
That evening, Holly, Jim and Bob went down-river investigating the geology along the incised river-banks. Bob measured a series of sections and samples are taken for later analysis. The trail cutters, Osmar, Lucio, and Rafael, continue cutting the trail across the crater until dusk then walk out to the Arroyo.