Postcards from The Field

Hi Folks Artist Mike Carroll And I Went To Erebus

Hi folks

Artist Mike Carroll and I went to Erebus under the auspices of the NSF’s Writers and Artists Program, to do a book comparing landscapes on Erebus with those on icy moons. Here I am descending into Hut Cave on the slopes of Erebus, aided by mountaineer Evan Miller, with Mike following behind. These ice caves are truly otherworldly features, and we can imagine that they might exist on Europa or Enceladus. 

Rosaly Lopes

Dear Everyone As The Sun Rises Its Clear Why

Dear everyone,

As the sun rises, it’s clear why this is an exciting time in the Willamette Basin, Oregon. For a brief period, Fall Creek Reservoir is drawn down below its conservation pool to run of river. This 49 meter tall dam normally impedes the downstream migration of juvenile salmon, but the draining of the reservoir helps them continue their migration. We’re working to learn more about the other short- and long-term implications of this novel management strategy.

Going with the flow,

Christina Murphy, PhD Candidate, Oregon State University

Like Stars In The Sky Lake Michigans Microbes

Like Stars in the Sky:  Lake Michigan’s Microbes Glow in their Waterscape

Dear everyone,

Here we are inventorying the microbes in Lake Michigan – the 2nd largest of the Laurentian Great Lakes.  At more than a million cells per milliliter of lake water, microbes stained with a nucleic acid-specific fluorochrome glow like stars under the epifluorescence microscope.  The smallest green specs are viruses, next come bacteria and cyanobacteria, with the largest space ship-like organism ferrying many bacterial aquanauts being a diatom.  These tiny, but abundant microbial plankton, link our planet’s watery “Inner Space” to the atmosphere and geosphere through their collectively massive activities such as photosynthesis and respiration.

Deb Dila, School of Freshwater Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI.

Bopi Biddanda, Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University, Muskegon, MI.

Our Research Team Remote In Situ And Synchrotron

Our research team, Remote, In Situ and Synchrotron Studies for Science and Exploration (RIS4E,, involves geologists at SUNY Stony Brook University and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center. We’ve been working together in the rift zones of Kilauea Volcano, HI, since 2008 studying the geochemistry of rocks and how they are altered when exposed to volcanic gases that are being released from the summit and along fumaroles. As we conduct this research we are evaluating the use of portable and handheld instruments in helping to make sure that we can conduct the best science possible with limited field time. This effort provides NASA with an understanding about how to build and operate instruments for use by astronauts as we prepare for humans exploring the Moon, Mars and beyond. For more information on RIS4E, check out our online report produced by Stony Brook’s School of Journalism ( Here we are in our most recent field campaign working in the shadow of Kilauea’s plume with our portable XRF, XRD, spectral imager, hyperspectral camera and LiDAR.

- Jacob Bleacher

Sentinel For A Great Lakes Estuary Dear

Sentinel for a Great Lakes Estuary

Dear Everyone,

We are out tending the Muskegon Lake Observatory buoy (MLO).  Muskegon Lake is an urbanized Great Lakes estuary connecting Michigan’s 2nd largest watershed to Lake Michigan, the 2nd largest Laurentian Great Lake.  MLO provides time-series weather, water quality and water circulation data from multiple depths, and is on its 6th year of deployment.  Over the years, MLO has been revealing stunning time-lapse details of underwater phenomena such as mixing, stratification, hypoxia and cyanobacterial blooms in this dynamic coastal ecosystem.  MLO data are freely available on the buoy website ( 

Bopi Biddanda, Anthony Weinke, and Scott Kendall  Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State

Greetings From The Alaskan Arctic We Are Sampling

Greetings from the Alaskan Arctic! We are sampling iron rich soil waters across the tundra to determine role of iron in carbon cycling in the Arctic soil waters. During the survey we can easily spot iron- rich rivers and standing water pools by their characteristic orange color as seen on the picture. 


Adrianna Trusiak, Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan

Greetings Enjoying A View Of The The Underwater


Enjoying a view of the the underwater realm from the point of view of a brook trout in Shenandoah National Park as we assess changes to fish communities in response to changes in stream pH.


Christine May

Department of Biology, James Madison University

Time Travelling In The Sinkholes Of Lake Huron

Time-travelling in the Sinkholes of Lake Huron

Dear everyone,

Here we are diving in the cool waters of the sinkholes in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Lake Huron, in July 2016 (  In this photo, NOAA archaeologist John Bright is grabbing cores of purple cyanobacterial mats that cover the lake floor as part of a collaborative research project with several academic institutions trying to understand life in these low-oxygen, high-sulfur ecosystems.  Could modern-day microbial mats like this have oxygenated our planet during life’s turbulent childhood?

Phil HartmeyerMaritime ArcheologistThunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Dear Science Enthusiasts Here Is Our Camp In

Dear Science Enthusiasts,

Here is our camp in northern Nevada, USA, where we are taking sediment cores for an NSF-sponsored palaeoclimate study of the last 3000 years. This part of the world seems to be a transition zone for shifts in northern hemisphere circulation regimes, and we are obtaining samples with array of sites which should provide insight into the spatial and temporal behaviour of major climate transitions in the region.

The dark skies of the Great Basin offer capital stargazing, and we wanted to share this view with you! When the sun comes up, we are back to getting wet and muddy.


Scotty Strachan

Department of Geography, University of Nevada, Reno

Greetings Everyone Im Here At False Cape State

Greetings everyone!

I’m here at False Cape State Park, VA, surveying dunes and grasses using kite aerial photography. This a great spot because two common East Coast dune-building grasses grow side by side–you just have to watch out for the cottonmouths and heat. 


Elsemarie deVries