Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We have been so busy the last couple of days that I have not been able to find the time to sit down and inform you of the latest updates, even though I have been writing down thoughts whenever I have a spare moment.  So here is what we did on Tuesday . . .

Today we flew from Santiago to Valdivia.  I was surprised by the unpaved, bumpy, narrow road we took from the airport to our hotel.  The hotel we are staying at is very nice and right on the Calle Calle River and are rooms overlook the river.  In the afternoon we took a bus from the Universidad Austral to visit their Marine Lab Calfuco (which means dark blue) in Niebla.  Along the way we stopped and took pictures overlooking the river that went dry after the 1960 earthquake and then which sent tidal waves up the banks.  We also stopped and took pictures overlooking the Pacific Ocean at a Spanish fort.  I was amazed at just how isolated the Marine Lab is from the city, but it is in a very peaceful and beautiful location.

We heard two presentations from faculty members.  I learned that there are currently only eight people in the world who are conducting research on erosion of sandy beaches.  In addition, this area of Chile is expecting an earthquake sometime in the next several years because historically when the north of Chile has one, this area has on that soon follows.  In most places an earthquake takes away land, but here earthquakes move the land up.  For example, one earthquake raised the level of the earth by 1.6 meters.  This change in the sea level has a direct effect on the biodiversity of the animal and plant species that live there.

Next we received a tour of the labs and talked with students working in them.  We learned that Ph.D. graduate students receive scholarships for four years, after which time they can renew them for a six month extension.  Therefore, if you require more than that amount of time to complete your degree, you must pay for the rest of it out of your own pocket.

Then we walked around outside and went down a path to get a better view of the ocean and to watch a pair of graduate students collect samples in the water.  However, they appeared to be having some competition with the foam created by the waves.  There was seaweed that had been pulled out of the ocean and was being dried on the rocks.  In the water it appeared black, but after drying it became orange.  I was offered to try some and I did.  You are supposed to chew on it and as you do so it becomes softer.  It is also supposed to be healthy for you.

We finished the day off by having dinner with administrators and faculty members from the Universidad Austral.  This has been a wonderful day and I look forward to the upcoming days.

Stay tuned for more . . .

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