I Used To Be A Geologist Like You…

But then I took a cactus to the face.

Ok, so I rehashed a (now old) internet meme simply for the purposes of a new title.  I haven’t actually taken a cactus to the face yet, hence why I am still a geologist (although I’ve come quite close on several occasions).  The cacti around here are vicious, they have massive spikes, that are pretty tough (although I did see a camel eating one at the Santiago zoo – the cheeky smug git).

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I must admit, the working environment of a mine is much more dangerous than your average office.  The mine itself has lorries that can carry 300 tonnes of rock each driving around, as well as blasting everyday at 5pm (which makes a loud bang, and the office building shakes for a few seconds).  The processing plants are risky places too, where you’ve got giant rock crushing machines, and 20 metre deep “swimming” pools of sulphuric acid (it’s ok though, as I’ve got safety specs).

Overall, it makes working in the field seem a lot safer (at least it certainly seems that way).  I’m spending these days out doing fieldwork, and one of my colleagues warned me about an insect that I was unlikely to come across, but you never know.  It’s known as a vinchuca, and apparently likes living on rocks, although it’s winter, so there might not be any.  Of course, there is a twist (isn’t there always a twist?).

Some of these vinchucas are apparently infected with a delightful little parasite that causes something called Chagas’ Disease.  Often, this is symptomless.  Doesn’t sound so bad?  Well, it’s also incurable, and for those for whom it is not symptomless, things can get a bit… unpleasant.  Things along the lines of an enlarged heart, or intestine.  Sudden death 30 years down the line is another possible option.  Charming!  The only piece of good news is that after digging around the internet for a bit, it appears that Chile has managed to eradicate transmission via these charming chappies. I’ll avoid the little critters anyway though if I see any, just in case!

Anyway, the field is great, it’s much more like proper geology (walking around the mountains looking at rocks is more fun than reading papers and reports).  The weather yesterday was lovely, topped off with a few Andean Condors flying around the area.

Hey Mr. Condor, how's it going?

Hey Mr. Condor, how’s it going?

I had a surprise when I got home though, as on the front door was a very large scary looking notice, written with lots of red capital letters and a rather fetching skull and crossbones motif in the top corner.  Not quite what I was expecting.  Essentially, for some reason (of which I hadn’t be told, rather worryingly), a company had popped in to give the place a nice dousing in pesticides.  Quite why this was needed I have no idea, hopefully it wasn’t a plague of Chagas’ infected vinchucas!

Wasn't expecting to see that on my front door!

Wasn’t expecting to see that on my front door!

 Today is an office day for me, as the field assistants have a few things to do down at the drill core storage facility, and we wouldn’t have enough time to get to the field (it’s a 2-3 hour drive each way).  I’ve got some stuff to read about alteration textures, and have the Fourth Ashes Test scores up too, with a nice cup of tea on my desk too of course, so I’m sorted!  I did get a lie in this morning, which was marvellous (I didn’t have to get in until 9am)!  Hopefully the same will apply for tomorrow!

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