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Hunting fossils in Indonesia

18 Posts
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The real work begins

Posted by Lil S Jan 13, 2011
Happy New Year from all of us back in our respective chilly countries. We all made it home safely and were very grateful to not get stuck in the travel chaos.
 
We spent the last week in Samarinda finishing off our work on the nearby localities and packing the samples for shipping back to London. Our storage room was completely full of sample bags and larger specimens wrapped in newspaper, boxes and buckets to keep them safe during the journey. There were nearly 1500 samples which we packed into 43 wooden crates and they were very heavy - an estimated 3 tonnes of rock!
 
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Sample bags waiting to be packed   (Photo F. Wesselingh)
 
As we packed we made an inventory of the sample numbers and types. The fossils were split into taxonomic group, e.g. corals, bryozoans, molluscs, algae and microfossils, then into sample type, such as individual specimens or bulk samples. The bulk samples will be washed and sorted and will provide an indication of diversity in the areas where they were collected. The were also samples of each sediment type, particularly the carbonates, which will tell us about the palaeoenvironments and taphonomy (post-depositional events) of the rocks.
 
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Carrying the heavy crates to van which took them to Balikpapan for shipping to London
                   
We also did a Nature Live event with the museum - did any of you see it? At 10.30pm we drove down to a local hotel with internet access and ran about with the laptop until we got a good enough signal to make the video connection. The staff were somewhat bemused by us hanging over the balcony and pretending we were in the jungle. Luckily it was dark so the audience couldn't see our luxurious surroundings. Public engagement has been a big part of this trip because it's important for us to communicate what we're doing to a wider audience and also to teach the Throughflow Early Stage Researchers how to talk about their work to a range of people.
                        
We will be updating this blog to let you know what's happening over the next few months. The container with the samples should arrive in six weeks and then there will be lots of excitement as the specimens are unpacked, prepared, processed, identified and analysed. There is another field trip to Kalimantan in June to look at new sites and make further collections, so keep an eye on this blog for further news and events.
                   
You can also keep in touch with progress on the IPAEG website
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By Vibor Novak, NCB Naturalis


Hello, my name is Vibor, originally from Croatia, but currently living in Leiden, working at NCB Naturalis. So why am I here, in Kalimantan? Because of the foraminifera.


But I don’t want to write about geology today. I will do that for my PhD thesis. What I want to write about is the people in Indonesia. Before our departure my main concern was not different geology of Indonesia (because geology is universal). Rock is rock, whether you look at it in Croatia, The Netherlands or in Indonesia. What I was questioning myself was the people here. I didn’t know what to expect. How will they look at me there? Will they behave differently? What about their religion? And many more questions like that came to my mind.


And when we finally arrived, boy was I surprised. But in the most positive way! So much kindness and so many smiles you won’t experience anywhere else. The people here are really honest, joyful and spontaneous. And they really have no prejudice  towards anyone. Whether you just need to buy something or you are lost in the field, they will always offer you help, even if they don’t know your (or English) language.



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Two men selling fruit near one of our sections and Sonja, Bill, Nadia and Emanuela with the owner of a section


Maybe they look a bit distant on the first sight, but that is only from the outside. If you only say hello to them, in return you get a wide smile and a few sentences in Indonesian language (which I must learn before coming back next year). And you really do feel welcome walking through the streets of any town, no matter if it is Jakarta, Bandung, Samarinda or Bontang. Sometimes maybe even too welcome, because there were a lot of situations when they wanted to take a photo with us, and the only thing we could do was smile with them and take a photo.

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School children near one of our localities

So thank you people of Indonesia for welcoming us in such a nice way.

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Going Bontang

Posted by Lil S Dec 10, 2010

By Frank Wesselingh, Naturalis Museum, Leiden


What a torture: the whole group moving up north there where the fossils are and me staying in Samarinda for another few days where the fossils, at least our fossil mollusks, definitely are not. You have met me before: I am Frank Wesselingh, a mollusk palaeontologist from the Naturalis museum in Leiden, the Netherlands.


And a few days later, we are off to Bontang! Excitement rose in our car when the GPS’s marked the approach of the equator, but before we knew we had passed it. No line, no nothing! We arrived completely astonished into the northern hemisphere. Not even daylightsavingtime! (Luckily no icy weather and dark days either).


We saw the first group on the side of the road. The young researchers were carrying heavy bags full of fossils. We jumped out the car to have a very brief look in the small quarry. Between the zillions of corals, there were the …… shells and snails! Beautiful, this was what we were hoping for! Great reef faunas very well preserved. Delicate forms just waiting to be found and admired.


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The first shells lying there waiting to be picked


The hotel itself turned out to be brand and brand new. For example there were not yet any knifes to come with the otherwise excellent beef ordered by several of us. It ended with a joint swiss army knife exercise, geologist can do anything! After the first afternoon in the field together with Sonja, my PhD researcher, and Aries, a geologist from Bandung, it was time to search for food. At six it gets rapidly dark so you find your way with a car through the dark city to spot a nice place. Once out of the car, the place turned out not to be that nice. Our Indonesian colleague asked a waiting police officer who stood next to us. Before we knew our three cars were chasing the police car with lights and sirens through the city to a beautiful restaurant. That was an unexpected hilarious start for me in Bontang.


The forthcoming days I hope to see with Sonja and Aries and Sonia from Bandung a lot of more fossil shells. As you can imagine I am very happy now!


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And there are monkeys too!

 

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Opening the tomb on tutenkCLAMun

Posted by Lil S Dec 10, 2010

By Jon Todd, NHM London & Wolfgang Muller, Royal Holloway University of London



I’m Jon Todd, a scientist studying molluscs and based at the Natural History Museum, London. Together with Wolfgang Müller and Bill Wood, geochemists from Royal Holloway, University of London, we have formed a small exploration team. We set out with our driver each morning and explore around the available roads.  The region around the town of Bontang where we are based is hilly and clothed in secondary rainforest, cut into by small farm plots, limestone and coal mines. Twenty years ago when the local map was made this area was sparsely inhabited rainforest with very few roads.  So we use Google Earth and GPS units to map where the twisty roads run. As we drive around we look for the roadcuts and small quarries that pepper the landscape. When the rocks are freshly exposed they are grey or black and then we know that the fossil corals and molluscs will be well preserved. With time the rocks turn a more attractive orangey-red. Unfortunately the fossils are then very crumbly or sometimes have disappeared completely.


Yesterday, we walked up a track where we could see a few piles of mud that looked promising. At the end of the track we spotted a small drainage ditch maybe a metre deep which ran uphill. In the bottom of the ditch was dark lagoonal mud deposited, we think, about 10-15 million years ago. When the sea level rose a small coral reef of pencil-sized finger-corals grew directly on this mud. Today we returned to the outcrop with Emanuela, Sonja, two students, and Aries – a local palaeontologist from the Geological Survey of Indonesia in Bandung.  They immediately started measuring the section, taking photographs and digging out big sacks of the corals and clams to be shipped back to Europe for study.

 

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Tridacna, the Giant Clam, at one of our localities near Samarinda with camera case for scale


Wolfgang and I wandered off to look for nice specimens of the giant clam – Tridacna. This is the coral reef giant, up to a metre long, that legendarily clamps onto divers’ feet and drowns them – a myth of course. We had found a few scraps the previous day and were hopeful for more. Half an hour later I spotted a small piece of shell sticking out of the clay.  We started digging, as we dug the clay away more and more shell became visible. It looked like we had a whole half shell (valve) of the giant clam that we had been seeking. But something wasn’t right – the shell was the wrong shape. A few more kilos of clay removed and it was clear we had a whole bivalved specimen. Now the challenge was to extract it from the ground. Two hours later, just as night fell and lightening sparked across the sky – we finally lifted the whole specimen from the ground. My job was over –now over to Wolfgang to tell you why this Tridacna might be very important...

 

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Jon and Wolfgang hauling their heavy treasure back to the car

 


Well, Tridacnas for us (isotope) geochemists are essentially the perfect sample. In our quest to reconstruct the environmental conditions several million years ago, we use the hard parts of organisms to give us information about temperature, salinity, ocean productivity and so on. We call this ‘measuring proxies’ – namely, the concentrations of certain trace elements within the shell change systematically with temperature, salinity etc. And this is why Tridacna is so useful: we get more than a snapshot of life’s conditions some 10-15 million years ago, instead we obtain environmental information over several decades, possibly even 100s of years. This is possible because these shells grow like tree rings, regularly depositing shell material with time. By using a laser-based technique, we can reveal seasonally changing temperatures or salinities across these rings from our very distant past. Using this technique we hope to learn much more about oceanographic conditions in the past. This will help us understand how the current marine biodiversity hotspot developed.

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Awwwwww!

Posted by Lil S Dec 9, 2010

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How cute are those sample bags?

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By Willem Renema, NCB Naturalis & Ken Johnson, NHM London

 

Hi, we are Willem Renema of NCB Naturalis and Ken Johnson of NHM and we are searching for new outcrops. An outcrop is a site where rocks are sticking out of the ground and available for study. To collect new data the project must find new outcrops, and that is our job for the week. We are currently 70 km north of the other two Throughflow groups in the town of Bengalon.


How does one find these outcrops?  Unfortunately due to heavy tropical rains and intense weathering rock outcrops do not last very long in the tropics. East Kalimantan is a large area, and besides being rare, useful outcrops must show the right kind of rocks for our study, so it is almost like searching for a needle in a haystack. Luckily we have data from researchers who studied this are more than 80 years ago. Today we were looking for outcrops first discovered by LMR Rutten who spent  from 1911 to 1913 looking for mineral resources such as coal, oil and minerals. Rutten collected very fossiliferous rocks from outcrops "2.5 km NW of Kaliorang" and we have seen these exceptional fossils in the collections of NCB Naturalis. Using this information and modern GIS technology we were able to locate a nice outcrop with similar kind of fossils that must be very near to the rocks that Rutten described. The site is in a small river valley with a series of small waterfalls cascading over limestone beds.  Luckily, erosion by the river keeps the rocks clean and accessible. The rocks contain exceptionally preserved fossils, including all target groups for the Throughflow project. After working so hard to relocate the site, we are very pleased with ourselves to actually find the fossils in their context.

 

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Beautiful fossils at a lovely site on the Sungai Kapia near its confluence with Sungai Narut

Energized by our morning success and our delicious nasi campur lunch we decided to look for Leupold's locality near Sangkuliran. Leupold was a swiss explorer hired by the Dutch government in the 1920s to report on mineral resources in the area.  His notes and samples are also held in the collections of NCB Naturalis. This particular locality is described as being ‘at the northernmost tip of the island on which the village of Sangkuliran lies‘ . We had only ten km to drive from our lunch spot, and were confident to be successful here as well. Unfortunately, due to heavy tropical rain and intensive use, roads don’t last very long in the tropics. After a short 3 km ride, we were stopped by a queue of 5 lorries behind 3 other lorries and a passenger car stuck up to their axles in deep mud that had once been the road. One hundred years ago our predecessors would not have been fazed as their mules could easily cope with a bit of muck.   Sadly, we were forced to retreat southward but we took the opportunity to stop again at the site of the beautiful river valley with lovely fossils. As the sunset lit up the clouds in the western sky, we returned to Bengalon to prepare for our next day of hunting  for treasures in East Kalimantan.

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End of the road at the mud trap 7 km from Sankulirang

 

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Samarinda: And so it begins...

Posted by Lil S Dec 8, 2010

By Nick Fraser, Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel

 

Hi, I’m Nick Fraser, a marine geochemist based at Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel, Germany. My main goals on this trip

are to collect microscopic fossils known as foraminifera, which live in a broad range of ocean environments. By identifying key types of foraminifera and later performing chemical analysis on their shells, it is possible to recreate past ocean circulation, an important step in understanding the Indonesian Throughflow in the past.

 

After a long journey from Bandung culminating in a 4am bedtime, the group arrived in Samarinda on the Island of Borneo, our `base camp´ for the main portion of the fieldwork. Waking up groggy and bleary-eyed, but nonetheless enthusiastic to get into

the field, the group quickly got ready and departed for our first locality- the `Stadium Section´.

 

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The whole Stadium section – lots to work with!

 

 

This section, a roadcut carved in 2006 to allow access to a sports stadium (the largest in South East Asia) perched imposingly

at one end of the outcrop, provides a range of lithologies. Thick, dark grey mudstones beds, occasionally with the presence of fossilised oysters, are capped with lignite (coal-rich) beds and overlain by channeled sandstone deposits. Lateral variations in thickness of the sandstones are observed, with plenty of well preserved cross bedding, ripple marks and flaser laminations (discontinuous mud laminations within a sandstone bed). A wide-scale cyclicity is noted within the bed structure, indicating a repeated change in depositional environments. A tentative interpretation would be of a delta environment exhibiting sea level cyclicity, but I will leave this for the stratigraphers to comment upon more!

 

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Cross-bedded sandstone at the Stadium section

 

 

After this, with storm clouds threatening (though they narrowly missed us in the end!) we proceeded further down the section to some larger carbonate deposits. The keen palaeontologists wasted no time in identifying a range of fossils- coral reefs

(branching and platy), molluscs, bryozoans, algae and large benthic foraminifera. This will no doubt be a section many will be revisiting in the coming weeks!

 

After a brief lunch, we had a short group logging exercise on the first section. Learning to log stratigraphic units is an incredibly useful tool for palaeontologists and geologists alike, and so this exercise proved to be a revelation for many in the group without

a geological background. With the group  beginning to wane in the strong Indonesian heat, we returned to the hotel for some well earned food and sleep, looking forward to further surprises this complex area of Indonesia holds.

 

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Researchers interpreting the stratigraphy of the section

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Hello, the researchers on our trip have been writing about their experiences measuring, describing and sampling the rocks around us here in Samarinda, East Kalimantan. I thought I'd show you where we're staying and what day-to-day life is like at the 'base camp' (see photos!).

 

We are staying in Hotel Putri Ayu, up in the hills above Samarinda. The hotel is lovely - a ring of wooden cottages overlooking the Mahakam River that flows out through a delta to the east of here. We get up for 7am, earlier than some of us are used to but I'm sure it's healthy, and breakfast is served in the eating area in the middle of our cottages. We eat fried rice or noodles with eggs, toast, fresh watermelon juice, tea and coffee, which is what a group of hard-working scientists need to set them up for the day.

 

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Hotel Putri Ayu

 

We then gather all the equipment we'll need and assemble around the cars. We have hired five cars so that small groups can go to different sections and do their specific work. Where everyone will go is decided the night before and is logistically complicated, but we have phones in each car so that we can stay in touch and move between the groups if we need to, or meet up for lunch.

 

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Lunch in a restaurant near the Stadion section

 

The sections we're working on range from 40mins to several hours away, so our drivers have to work out where to go based on our sometimes vague descriptions, GPS co-ordinates and shouts of "Ooh look at that reef up there in the jungle, can we go that way?". They are very patient. At lunchtime we find a restaurant nearby and sample the menu - we're still learning what all the foods are and it's often a surprise to see what we've ordered. The food is really good here, not as spicy as in Java but there's always some killer red sauce around to dip bits of chicken and fish into. I think we're all big fans of the fresh fruit juice. I can't quite move on from the mango, it's perfect on hot days...

 

By the way, I hear that Europe is experiencing something of a cold snap. We all feel for you.

 

So, then it's back to work for the afternoon until five or six, when the light begins to fade. We put all our sample bags into the car and go back to the hotel for much-required showers. In the evening we convene for dinner (beef, chicken, prawns, tofu, rice, fruit, it's not easy you know) and then have a meeting about what we found during the day and where we'd like to go tomorrow. This is important as it gives people a chance to find out what each section contains - is it good for corals? Are there any bryozoans? What is the preservation like? Were there any deep-water facies?

 

Then it's early to bed. No really it is. Everyone is usually very tired and by the time we've sorted our samples, recharged our cameras, scrubbed the mud off our boots, downloaded our GPS tracks and said goodnight to the geckos, we're all ready to sleep. And peace reigns over the tiny encampment of intrepid explorers.

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By Elena Lo Giudice, University of Kiel

 

This is Elena, a PhD student at the University of Kiel, in Germany. I’m an oceanographer so this is my first time on land and I never thought that the life of a geologist could be so exciting.

 

Our adventure started early in the morning trying to communicate with our driver, a very nice, patient and always-smiling guy. After a couple of misunderstandings we arrived at the outcrop and we started the initial investigation of the area. Our curiosity about a missing part of the rock succession drove us at first to the playground of a school, which was built in the middle of the section. Here we were accepted as rockstars - everybody wanted a picture of us - and then we reached the base of the outcrop, a very important point for our work. We were working on the edge of a mining area - there are lots of coal mines here. We will work on mined outcrops higher up in the section later this week but first we need to have health and safety training so we can be safe around the mining roads.

 


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Nathan and me with students at the local school

 

Our work today consisted of logging the outcrop, for instance defining the different rocks and geological structures present in the strata – from the base to the top - and measuring them. We make this information into a diagram (a log) so that other people on our trip can use them when they want to collect from the section. This way they will know where their fossil or rock samples came from and when we work out the ages and palaeoenvironments of the sections, they can relate that information back to the fossil faunas and floras they have identified and have more information on how they lived.

 

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Layers of clay, silt and sandstone at the Stadion Section near Samarinda

 

So, after this amazing day, I came back to the hotel with our driver’s smile impressed in my mind, a lot of pictures with the school guys and, of course, 80m of logged section, what can I ask more for just a single day?

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By Amanda Frigola Boix, University of Bremen

 

My name is Amanda and I am a mathematician. You’ll be wondering what I am doing here. I am using climate models to reconstruct the ancient climate of the Indonesian region and I will compare model outputs to the data collected by my Throughflow colleagues. How can we do this? They are taking samples of fossils that will allow them to derive different properties of the past water currents and I am here to learn what these techniques are and how they can be used.

 

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Geologists pontificating


I am enjoying this opportunity to stick my nose into the geology world. Geologists are passionate people to the point that some white marks on a rock (coralline algae ) can make their eyes shine like a child’s, they love photographing pencils to scale objects, not only rocks, they scale anything, even butterflies.

 

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Rainbow

 

Today we visited two limestone outcrops, one between Teuggarong and Senoni and the second one close to Senoni. The aim of the trip was to get a general overview of the place, think about which team members could be interested in it and whether it would be possible to make a good log of it. To get there we drove through forty kilometres of winding road, through rice fields, mud, palm trees and colourful wooden houses built on the river Mahakam. The outcrops were located in quarries, often family businesses with strong people but with an extremely easy and sincere smile at the same time. Among them an old man, who instantly recognized the Dutch in our group, as he used to deal with then when Indonesia was a Dutch colony.

 

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Barge

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Firemountains, source of life

Posted by Lil S Nov 30, 2010

By Frank Wesselingh, Naturalis Museum, Leiden

 

The amazing volcanoes that straddle Java are here for a reason. This is a short essay on how Indoaustralian nutrients enrich day-to-day Indonesian life.

 

The first physical disorders are already occurring within our group: toothache here, bronchitis there and some of the inevitable stomach disorders. However, the team is in good spirits, certainly after an inspiring day of workshop that included some of the basics of writing a blog.

 

So here you have a blog which tries to explain why there are so many volcanoes around us, written by your molluscan palaeontologist Frank.

 

There are really many volcanoes on Java, I think seventeen of them are classified as active. Many of them have the characteristic conical volcano shape that I learnt as a kid volcanoes should look like. Java is located on the southeast tip of the Eurasian continent, the large plate on which the United Kingdom (and Ireland and the rest of mainland EU) is located.

 

Only a few hundred kilometers to the south of Bandung there is the plate that contains India and Australia, the Indoaustralian plate. That plate and the Eurasian plate are converging. In some places the plates collide and huge mountains, the Himalayas are uplifted. In other areas, such as south of Java, the Indoaustralian plate dives under the Eurasian plate, because of the slightly heavier weight of the former.


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the process of making a volcano

 

The submerging plate is drawn into the hot mantle and melts: magma begins to form. Because the submergence occurs under an angle, the melting takes place deep under the Eurasian plate. When enough magma is formed it will seek its way upward and will form volcanoes, like those on Java. When you encounter a row of volcanoes, like here, or in southern Alaska or Peru, you can be certain there must be a subducting plate nearby.

 

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Volcanoes on West Java

 

 

A part of the lava and ashes spewed by the Java volcanoes has an Indoaustralian origin! They are rich in nutrients and make very fertile ground. You can see this in the landscape. Crawling up the flanks of the volcanoes are vegetable plots and villages. People live in places they’d better not and as shown by the recent Merapi eruption, the likelihood of casualti increases.


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the fertile grounds around the volcano

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Upside-down canoe volcano

Posted by Lil S Nov 23, 2010

By Simone Arragoni, University of Granada, Spain

 

Indonesia… Just the sound of this word is enough to excite every geologist’s fantasy!! And that’s the place where we are right now!

 

Here the geology is something living, not just strange and boring words on a book: Indonesia is the hot and restless daughter of the convergence between the Indo-Pacific and Australian plates, animated by earthquakes, tsunamis, giant slides and….volcanoes, of course!!

 

 

We are now in Bandung, 140 km east of Jakarta, close to the Tangkuban Perahu Volcano (the “overturned boat-shaped” volcano), so we have enjoyed a “wet” tour in the lush rainforest which covers the flanks of the mountain, reaching a small crater with steam and boiling water springs. There you can even cook an egg and eat it in the foggy atmosphere created by the hot steams and the showery rains.

 

 

But the best is yet to come… through a slippery and narrow “natural staircase” we eventually reach the top of the volcano and have a look inside the main crater. And there you do feel that the mountain is alive, blowing its white fumes and quietly sleeping before the next eruption…Towards the east endless and mysterious mountains form the backbone of Java, while thousands meters below your feet the Australian plate is being pushed northwards and downwards in the mantle. The emotion is too strong (and the humidity too!), so we have to go away and eat something.

 

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The Tangkuban Perahu Volcano

 

We go down to Lembang, stopping at a typical Indonesian restaurant, where you can eat the famous ayam goreng (fried chicken). This is the real “Indonesian experience”, eating strange and spicy things and drinking hot tea and mango juice while the rain is hitting the roof.

 

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Javanese ayam goreng

 

The best conclusion for such a nice day would be a crazy ride on a rollercoaster-like road, packed up in a small van that will carry us to the hotel and the desired hot shower.

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Hellfire on the reef

Posted by Lil S Nov 23, 2010

This is the first day into the field with the group in order to see whether the field approach we discussed yesterday would work out when standing in front of an outcrop. Well, with three members of the expedition accidentally left behind in the hotel we had an early learning moment. Nevertheless, a trip with the taxi made  us reunite. We climbed across the stony wall through a lush forest, the air is humid, thick and full of tropical smells, it is great to be back in the field here!

 

My name is Frank Wesselingh and I am a paleontologist working with bivalves and snails. The hard limestone in the mountains about one hour west of Bandung have few shells but provided an excellent training ground. Our young researchers were drawn almost immediately into the rock layers forgetting about the big picture straight away. Another learning moment! The geology is excellent. Carbonate of approximately 25 million years old. The outcrops probably contain the slope of a carbonate platform, with lots of algae, corals, foraminifera and other organisms.

 

 

Two outcrops done, we are on the way to our lunch and drive over a pass as the road winds along a scarp. Alongside all kind of medieval looking furnace ovens where lime is burnt show up. The sight is impressive, deep fires burning in towers that could have staged in a Hollywood movie about an ancient quest or so.

 

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These are the lime ovens, there is a big fire at the bottom and the lime is thrown in at the top

 

The final site is a complex of caves alongside a mountain. We climb across small passageways and enter into a large amphitheater with an open roof. To the side some sort of windows in the limestone walls offer a view of the rice paddies and villages in the valley below us. Behind us the screeching of bats and the particular smell of their excrements all add to the strange beauty of this place. Climbing into the cave we see a chimney and far above us there are circling our screeching friends.

 

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This is the view from the bat cave down into the field below

 

 

The first day in the field was hot and hugely educational. It is strange to see the massive limestone walls and to think how it must have been to dive around in a blue tropical sea teeming with life 25 million years ago. We will be looking into such ancient sea deposits in the weeks to come.

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Padang and Java man

Posted by Lil S Nov 20, 2010

Hello! I am Anja, one of the two German girls in the team. My base is Granada, Spain and my aim is to document the timing and patterns of the diversification of the indopacific reef-building coralline algae.

  

So, yesterday night we arrived in Bandung. For me it was like arriving in a little paradise after the noisy, quite dirty and huge city of Jakarta, finding ourselves in a quiet garden in our nice hotel. Another interesting experience was eating Indonesian fast food, called Padang, (in the chain “Sederhana”) for the first time at a resting area right by the motorway. And it was really good, healthier than what we are used to in Europe, great variety and also great choice for the vegetarians.

 

 

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Here we are with a huge table full of food!

 

Today we are visiting the Pusat Survei Geologi, where our Indonesian colleagues work. After an introduction to stratigraphy we had the chance to see the museum and Professor Fahrul Aziz showed us astonishing samples of Java man skulls and mandibles, which are around 1 million years old and that we only know from the literature. The afternoon will continue with practical planning, decision-making on methods and completing our tool set to make the field work as effective as possible.

 

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Professor Aziz and Fauzi Hasibuan from the survei with Frank Wesselingh, Bill Wood, Jon Todd (NHM) and Willem Renema

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The scientists have landed!

Posted by Lil S Nov 18, 2010

Hi I’m Bill Wood, originally from Ireland and now based in Royal Holloway University of London. I’m going to be researching high resolution geochemistry of ancient coral reefs here in Indonesia which will help us understand seasonality over long periods of time during the last 15-20 million years.

 

 

So… We're all here - after arriving in multiple groups - some from London and Amsterdam, others from Spain and Germany. The visa process is now underway and we're on call to go to the immigration office to finalise the work permits and have photos taken. Yesterday was a national holiday here (Idul Adha) which meant we could have a look around Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta.

 

 

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This is Monas, the Indonesian National Monument in central Jakarta - and me (right) with Nathan Marshall keeping up our electrolytes!

 

Jakarta has been a new experience for many of us - for me and a few others it is the furthest away from home we've been so far. The stark cultural differences between Europe and Asia have also been a new experience for me. I've been asked to stand with Indonesian people for photographs (as my 194cm height is quite a rarity here!). Jakarta is also a busy city - crossing the road has been tricky at times but we’ve managed to explore the area quite a bit…

 

 

Yesterday (Wednesday the 18th of November) a group of us ventured into the city to see some of the sights. After visiting the national monument we went on a tour of the largest mosque in Southeast Asia (also here in Jakarta). We also visited the beach to get a first glimpse of the Java Sea which involved a theme park which turned out to be good fun too!

 

 

Shortly we’ll depart for Bandung, Java, for the next part of our visit – a stratigraphy and field skills course based in the Pusat Survei Geologie (Indonesian Geological Survey).

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