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  • Anirudh Patel

Breaking Trail! (virtually, of course)

Happy Monday! It is now week 3 of our summer projects and we are certainly making some headway with QGIS. Blakley and I have another good QGIS session with Oscar under wrap and we are ready to pick up where we left off during our meeting this week. The two main things we learned last week were interpolation and terrain profiling. In his previous post, Blakley explained in detail exactly what interpolation consists of. Terrain profiling is also a very interesting feature which allows one to draw a line or route along any map layer consisting of topographic data. This data could contain a variety of values including those for temperature, elevation, precipitation, humidity and so on. These attributes vary across different locations so the terrain profiling tool essentially gives a cross section of this data along a selected route as seen below.

The red line from Manasquan to Freehold is the selected route. The purple/green shaded square is a map layer consisting of elevation data, which is being cross sectioned with the line. On the graph, the x-axis represents distance in meters along the line (with 0 meters being at Manasquan) and the y-axis represents elevation in meters. So the graph shows that near the shore in Manasquan, the elevation is close to 0 (sea level) and it trends higher as we leave the shore, which naturally makes sense.

As far as actually gathering such data, I suppose this would be my first project requiring real field work… that is unless you consider shell collecting or leaf pressing in grade schools to be serious field work. The original research plan in Costa Rica had an emphasis on data collection. Now that I have worked with some of the collected data and talked with Oscar, I think I have a better idea of exactly what this data collection would consist of, as well as how it’s used. As mentioned, we are studying gravity anomalies which is essentially a difference between the observed gravity value and the theoretical gravity value determined using some crazy math and likely several approximations/assumptions. The observed gravity values are obtained by manually lugging gravimeters and other equipment up tall mountains and other points of interest. So yeah, that is what I am currently missing out on as I type this from an NJ suburb situated a measly 100 feet (or 30 meters, viva la SI system!) above sea level.

On the bright side however, you can never have too much data! And I’m sure some measuring tools which are spread out across some breathtaking locations in Costa Rica must eventually be visited or retrieved. So I suppose there is certainly a possibility of travelling and performing some field work in the future to collect more data, as well as to visit existing equipment sites. Definitely something I’m looking forward to.

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