Research heats up for Earthwatch Volunteer
In January 2009, I registered to partake in a volunteer Earthwatch expedition held in Costa Rica at the Poas Volcano. As Volcanoes aren’' something we experience in Australia I was interested to learn about them and the effects they have on surrounding ecosystems.
When my manager at work suggested Earthwatch might be something I'd enjoy, I thought this would be a great opportunity to understand a small aspect of the natural world a little better while also introduce me to the culture of South America, a place I’d always wanted to visit.
I arrived at the San Jose airport where I met the three other volunteers who were from USA and England. We were then greeted by our Earthwatch Team Leader Dr Hazel Rymer (Volcanologist), ecologists and PhD students from all around the world.
The week-long expedition included working and meeting with local volcanologists and seismologists with studies focusing on gravity readings on the rim of the volcano, using plants to determine the release of gases such as sulphur & local flora assessments.
All of our data helped to determine the effects of the volcano on surrounding flora/fauna and communities as well as added to information relating to the volcano's movements. These studies help volcanologists and seismologists with their research, but also gives Costa Rica important information about the volcano without using expensive equipment and resources.
During our time away from the volcano we were introduced to the delicious Costa Rican cuisine, as well as impromptu field guides on anything and everything including the coffee industry and political history of Costa Rica.
During the evenings there were many interesting discussions often spurred on by the presentations made by the PhD students or the day's events onsite.
The whole expedition was very dynamic allowing our questions as volunteers to filter through into the activities and discussions we had throughout the week.
One of the highlights of the week was the 6.7 earthquake we experienced while on the rim of the volcano. Thankfully for the teams' experience, in what could have been a terrifying moment, instead has gone down as one of the most amazing and memorable moments of my life.
Not only did I gain some great knowledge around the workings of the Poas volcano but made some great friends from all around the world and a life long love for all things South American.
- Jade Brain, Earthwatch volunteer.
Learn more about Earthwatch's Volcano expedition and how researchers are exploring the effects that active volcanoes have on the wildlife, plants and animals that live in their shadows.