IUP Department of Geoscience students Lauren Donati and Lindsey Aman were in Taiwan with Jon Lewis doing National Science Foundation-funded research to understand what factors control the geologically rapid exhumation rates of the Central Range. They started this season’s efforts in early July with collaborators Tim Byrne (Univ. of Connecticut), Jian-Cheng Lee, Gong-Ruei Ho, and Fatma Kourim (Academia Sinica, Taiwan), and En-Chao Yeh (National Taiwan Normal University) by collecting data and samples along rivers that drain the eastern slope of the mountain range.
The work focused on the powerful Hsinwulu and Chingshui Rivers that, through erosion, have exposed rocks that were at depths of ~55 km as recently as the middle Miocene (~16 million years ago). The next phase of work had the IUP team and Byrne join Wei-Hao Hsu and Chiou-Lien Chang (National Taiwan University PhD students) and drone expert Yu-Cheng Hsu (National Central University MS student) to backpack from the Southern Cross Island Highway at Siangyang to Jiaming Lake to conduct high-resolution drone surveys of topography.
After a two-day approach, they worked at over 11,000 feet of elevation for only a few hours before Typhoon Danas forced evacuation of the area. Although their plan for three days of drone surveying was cut short, their brief survey proved very informative. The team hurriedly headed back to Taipei ahead of the typhoon, which then proceeded to defy most predictions by turning northeast, missing most of the island. Such are the challenges of working in Taiwan’s mountains.
The longer-than-expected time in Taipei provided other opportunities, including synthesizing new landscape and field observation with data from prior field campaigns, working with new collaborators in Taiwan, and preparing abstracts for submission to the American Geophysical Union for the December meeting to be held in San Francisco.