Monday, June 18, 2012
Those who have followed this blog will remember that our team laid out trail mat across the tundra in May. At the time, we transported almost 800 meters of trail mat to our site and positioned individual one meters sections end-to-end so that we formed pathways to each of our four research plots.
The challenge this trip was to connect the many pieces into safe and solid surface for walking. The GeoBlock trail mat has interlocking tabs that can be screwed together. That seems to work well, but placing screws and using a drill with gloves proved cumbersome in an initial test last May, so I have been looking for an alternative. I thought of cable ties, which would have worked, but they would be expensive. In searching the web, I found reference to double loop wire ties used to connect rebar. I ordered 2500 ties, each 9 inches long, and a couple of twisting tools with the thought that they would be quick, effective, and inexpensive.
They worked great! Joanne Childs (ORNL), Jessie Cable (UAF) and I could place sections of trail mat end-to-end, wrap one of the loop ties through the mat, and twist the ties into place. We could connect two pieces in under a minute and build long sections in just 5 minutes. These could then be easily carried into the field of placement to each of our polygon plots.
Right now, we are almost finished with this task. We have built a trail and added spur trails that now allow our NGEE Arctic team to access vegetation, hydrology, and biogeochemical plots. This should really facilitate data collection as we get our field season underway.
I'll post more detailed pictures tomorrow.