Friday, June 6, 2008

Planting Grass on Mars?

On June 5th we got in our first plantings of the “Seepage Project”. At this point we are one site down and two to go… I need to wait for the groundwater crew to better define the other two sites before we can plant them.

This site, on the east side of Jessup’s Neck, appears to be a major upwelling area as indicated by the dark staining of rust red on an otherwise tan sandy bottom. It literally looks like a moonscape with silver bubbles. Even when we dig down into the sand it shows evidence of reduced iron with a strong dark blue color.

It is getting late to transplant in the PE, but I am hoping that the temperature moderation of the groundwater will help to reduce the stress on the plants. The control plots outside the seepage will not have this benefit, if there is any.

Kim and I were able to plant out four 1m2 plots, two in the seepage and two outside of the seepage. Now its time for Brad and his crew to follow plant growth and survival. Since they plan to destructively sample (remove plants over the summer) we also planted a plot for us to follow over the coming months.

As part of this project we also deployed two temperature loggers under half cement blocks on the sediment surface. If there are any differences between the flow and no flow sites, these should pick it up.

While we were planting we witnessed something that we have never seen before, a clam spawning. Check back for a note and pictures describing this event.


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