I’ve been working to get the gas leak manuscript out the door over the past month, and what a great process this has been. This project is my first dive into soil methane oxidation – there’s so much literature about this (= lots of reading) and we’re seeing tons of complementary data coming from our experiments at Porter Ranch (= lots of contextualizing!). Most exciting to me, are the very obvious parallels in microbial meta-community dynamics that are becoming evident, when comparing marine oil spills with soil gas leaks. This starts to get back to what my mom always said – that chemistry is the central science! Chemistry appears to be driving the microbiology, regardless of environment. It’s so cool. Tangentially – there’s a new paper in PNAS describing a bench-based simulation of the gulf oil spill – these guys successfully replicated a lot of the same dynamics documented in situ. I recommend having a look.
I’ve also been taking time off to backpack, and this has been fantastic. This was my first trip camping in the eastern Sierras. Normally I am a Yosemite kind of girl, but the eastern range has its own (skyscraping!) charm. We were able to get up to 10,400 feet before the snow was too deep to go further. Most years the snow would not be so deep in July, but our wet winter left an incredible snowpack. I think our group got further than any other backpackers so far this year (we did not see any tents or obvious tracks past our own.) This was pretty cool, though I am sure someone will make it further yet, by this weekend.
The whole area around Blue Lake was stunning. The water in the lake was clear and cold and tasted incredible. And, not needing to pack in our own water was a great bonus. The only down side to all the water was the mosquitoes. There were thousands upon thousands (upon thousands) of mosquitoes. They were concentrated in Blue Lake Basin because of all the pools, and they were active a full 24 hours a day. We would see upwards of thirty on us at any given moment. But, if we kept moving we could pretend that they weren't too bad.
We almost made it to Evolution basin, which includes mounts Darwin, Haeckel, and Lamarck. The snow was too deep this time around and we didn't make it. But having ‘almost made it’ we know we’ll go back. I mean come on who doesn’t want to go to Evolution Basin?