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Geology Report
Date: 12/25/2013 132.3
Crew Geologist: Michael Bouchard

What an exceptional day! Thanks to the lessons learned from yesterday's EVA we were able to minimize difficulties with EVA equipment and focus on science collection. Today we completed GeoEVA_1 simultaneous with BioEVA_1. This traverse collected information for all three of the Geology projects but was principally a mapping project. 
The target goals for today were to establish a sense of the local stratigraphic column, characterize units, collect the first round of Geologic samples, and complete a human factors usability study of the 18 tools I usually bring with me to the field. I took over four pages of notes today and collected 11 points for my map. At each of these locations I assigned a site id, took and a GPS location, and made a description. The description of the locations included general lithology, chemical composition, structures, sorting, grain shape, and interesting features. 
I think mission support made a good decision for the location of this habitat. I would say that we are in a region that has seen several generations of water flow! One of the first sites we stopped had showed us an ancient graded stream bed. Here we were excited to find some distinct found topping indicators. The cross bedding (3-4 inches fig 1) combined with the fining upward direction of this location is upright. This is valuable information and is one of the first things Geologists look for in sedimentary rocks. There was a slight dip towards the west (less than 10 degrees). This dip was observed in a few other areas but in general most units lay horizontally. 
There were several layers of muddy unconsolidated sediment. Most of this appears to be eroded and redeposited. Some of the protolyth could be found flaking off in friable concentric layers (fig 2). We found chert which is a microcrystaline quartz often found along stream systems. However we found it while standing in a melting snow run off. But this is evidence of the paleo-hydrosphere and thus still useful. Also a possible continuous layer of purple bentonite which would give us a good specific age of the unit. 
We hiked up to the top of the selected peak. This gave us a great view of the surround terrain and allowed me to make a sketch of the exposed straigraphic sequence (Fig 3). Here I could see alternating layers of competent and incompetent rocks. Over all I got a lot of useful mapping and Geologic data. 
I also collected two sub surface soil samples. These were tagged and bagged according to my previously established procedures. I did not get an image of the second site because our gloves were too muddy to operate cameras. One is a gray sticky mud that was under a few cms of ruddy regolith. The second is a redish color and is more friable. I will run these two sample through the Ultra-Violet Spectrometer Prototype tomorrow. We also brought back a hand sample of desert varnish. 
The third project I am working on is studying how the analog environment affects the suite of Geologic tools I use. This was a very successful study today. I took 18 tools I usually bring mapping with me into the field. Storing them was not an issue because of the abundance of pockets in the EVA jumpsuits. Accessing a few of them was difficult because of muddy gloves and limited ability to look down at my own chest. I used most of my tools in their expected capacity and over all I was surprised that my work was not terribly hindered. I was even able to use my hand lens by holding it to my helmet. 
Visibility became an issue when engaged in strenuous activity and as the day grew warmer. The gloves hindered me a little but not much more than operating in a cold environment. The SCLSS (backpack) was large and restricted access to some paths and crevices. The biggest difference was the inability to taste samples. The helmet effectively limits this tool that Geologists are often stereotyped for. A self declared "rock licker" there were a few times I would have liked to be able to taste a sample. Most notably when investigating a fine white mineral precipitate, and when determining the grain size of a mud/claystone. 
Today was incredibly successful and informative. I was able to make great mapping progress as well as progress my other two projects greatly. I look forward to documenting all of this data and getting back out there in a few days. 

(NOTE: Figures not included in transmission)

Crew Geologist Schedule: 
12/22/13: Arrive at MDRS
12/23/13: MDRS orientation and complete GeoEVA_0, Site Orientation
12/24/13: First Day of Sim, plan Geology EVA's, Coordinate and Schedule EVA's, catalog EVA Equipment, and create EVA procedures, prep GenEVA_1, plan and prep GeoEVA_1
12/25/13: GeoEVA_1/BioEVA_1, Geologic Mapping, documentation, post mapping, store samples, equipment survey
12/26/13: Plan and prep GeoEVA_2, assemble and test UV Spec, run first set of samples (2-4)
12/27/13: GeoEVA_2/GHEVA_1, Sample Collection, documentation, post mapping, store samples, equipment survey
12/28/13: Run second batch of samples (4-8), write up equipment assessment, prepare Habitat Support Logistics and Procedures for GeoEVA_3
12/29/13: Run second batch of samples (4-8), write up equipment assessment, prepare Habitat Support Logistics and Procedures for GeoEVA_3
12/30/13: Prep and Plan GeoEVA_3, write up sample analysis and instrument assessment, brief HSCC
12/31/13: GeoEVA_3/BioEVA_3, Logistical Analysis, collect large sample, documentation, post mapping, store samples, equipment survey, write up Logistical Analysis
1/1/14: Run third batch of samples (2-4), finalize sample analysis and instrument assessment
1/2/14: Finalize Equipment Assessment, and Logistical Analysis, pack up UV Spec
1/3/14: Bag travel samples, pack personal gear, compile and edit all three studies into final report
1/4/14: Transition Crews and Depart MDRS


Biology Report
MDRS Crew 132
Science Report 12/25/13
Usha Lingappa and Dani YoungSmith

On today's EVA (BioEVA_1), we chose an experimental site at the base of peak 518500mE 4251500mN, at an elevation of 1364m. At approximately 13:36 we took soil samples from three depths in the soil, and monitored the temperature at each depth (surface 7.4ºC, 10cm -0.7ºC, and 20cm -2.3ºC). We tried to maintain aseptic technique in the field by surface sterilizing our instruments with ethanol. Upon return to the Hab, we inoculated agar plates (both LB and P49) with each of the soil samples by mixing the samples with sterile ultrapure water to create a slurry, and spreading it on the surface of the medium. Our hope is that we will be able to culture and isolate organisms from each depth in the soil. 

Our algae and bacillus cultures from Earth are doing fairly well in the lab here. Both bacillus isolates (JW 2 and JW 7) are growing nicely, along with one of our liquid Chlamydomonas cultures. We transferred the other liquid Chlamy culture to new medium, hoping to revive it. We are having trouble with the plated Chlamy, we think that it may be a problem with the medium, or the fact that we haven't been able to maintain the cultures at a steady temperature. We inoculated a new plate today with a more concentrated starting culture.