Japan and Taiwan: Jungle mountaineering for geology

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giantbrookie
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Japan and Taiwan: Jungle mountaineering for geology

Post by giantbrookie » Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:28 am

Hi folks. I've been out of California, far from the nice crisp fall weather of the Sierra and the big trout I like pursuing so much. I've been in Japan and then Taiwan since Sept 6. My main objective was to do some geologic field research on some specific targets, primarily in Shikoku and in southeastern Taiwan. I cannot count the number of my friends and collaborators who said that this would be kind of hopeless owing to either being too steep (ie dangerous) or not steep enough so as to have no rock outcrops. And the vegetation is super dense. And folks also warned me of poisonous snakes, particularly in Taiwan. Now that I've finished all my field days (two more office days here in Taipei), I can give a brief report. One can actually get around off trail and road and find good geology without going outright technical. A lot of what I did get into what would be "jungle class 3" which is class 3 with lots of vegetation. One learns very quickly by testing vegetative holds the same way they would rock ones, which types of vegetation is the most reliable. What I did the poorest job adjusting to, though, was the heat and humidity which eventually defeated me here in Taiwan on my hardest hike: every day 90+ with super high humidity. In Japan it was pretty hot too (generally 80-85 with moderate to high humidity) plus we had to cancel one field day because of a typhoon. The typhoon also destroyed some roads that forced retargeting for another field jaunt. It also wiped out the car of the guy who would have driven me on my last field day in Shikoku (parked in low-level garage and car was submerged by the flooding from the typhoon). Anyhow I simply did not bring enough water on my harder hikes in Taiwan.
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Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;






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Re: Japan and Taiwan: Jungle mountaineering for geology

Post by rlown » Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:21 am

Nice report, except for the poisonous snakes and the veg holds. Yikes!

Thanks for the report. What were you investigating, geologically speaking?

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Re: Japan and Taiwan: Jungle mountaineering for geology

Post by giantbrookie » Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:37 pm

rlown wrote:Nice report, except for the poisonous snakes and the veg holds. Yikes!

Thanks for the report. What were you investigating, geologically speaking?
Regarding geology, I was focusing on geologic units that I could study to gain insight into how fault movement is accommodated in subduction, as well as units that potentially provide crucial information bearing on the large-scale tectonic history of Japan and Taiwan (and for general tectonic process that applies in many other places of the world). Chief among the types of units I was investigating here are these block-in-matrix sorts of assemblages known as mélanges, which are very well known in my California Coast Range stomping grounds in the notorious Franciscan Complex. Whereas there are many features in common between some of the Japanese and Taiwanese rocks I'm studying and my "native" Franciscan, there are some big differences, too, and both the similarities and differences are instructive.

As for snakes... My Japanese field partner has his students wear these farmer's boots that have very high rubber sides and robust soles with nails that grip very well, even on fairly wet rock. He says the high rubber is useful protection from snake strikes. He also told me to slow down when hiking off trail, saying I was moving so fast that I wasn't giving snakes enough time to get out of my way. When I visited Taiwan in 2014 my host (different than my 2017 host) really didn't want to get into the jungle at all, partly because of the snake threat, but I did in fact dash into the woods a few times to collect some good samples. This was actually the day after I had done some online reading on poisonous snakes and Taiwan and wished that I had not. This time my field partners did not hesitate to plunge into the high grass and jungle behind me. One of them, a post-doc from Thailand did in fact say that she hoped not to have to deal with snakes after having encountered cobras on occasion doing field work in her native land. All told, I saw only one confirmed snake, this was on my 2nd day of field work in Shikoku. I was pretty sure it was harmless and it skittered quickly out of my way. My crew behind me, however, was really spooked and proceeded very slowly. We looked up images on Japanese snakes afterwards and found that it was indeed a harmless snake (much like the garter snakes we have). In Taiwan there were a lot of things moving in the undergrowth as I thrashed through and they did make me jumpy, but these all seemed to be small lizards, rather than snakes. There was a bigger slithering creature I saw at the very beginning of my most epic hike in Taiwan and it may have been a snake (scuttled off quickly in the grass ahead of me). However, if it was a snake it appeared to be entirely black and I don't think any of the poisonous snakes of Taiwan are 100 percent black (there are a few that are mostly black with some lighter markings). The one I was really worried about was this one that is supposed to strike from overhanging trees and vines because there was so many hanging vines and branches I had to go through.

Anyhow, when I was retreating solo through the jungle I was feeling a bit more spooked than usual, but then I thought of troops who have served in combat in places like Vietnam where the snake situation is somewhat similar. I think poisonous snakes would have ranked pretty low on their list of concerns. That perspective helped me from being overly jumpy when struggling through the undergrowth.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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