Wednesday January 13, 2016
It is the first day we finished well before dark. We certainly had time to collect more data, but a few stressful incidents persuaded us to call it quits after we had reached our primary goal for the day. We worked today in a well field 2 kilometers north of the Camp.
The geology of Kakuma is very simple – and very complex. It’s simple because it is essentially the edge of a basin, or let’s say a dish, filled with sediment. It’s complex because that dish is made of a variety of volcanic rocks, and the depth of that dish rapidly varies with the volcanic rock sometimes coming to surface, and then quickly deepening to many tens of meters. And the sediment can be sand, clay, volcanic gravels, sand and clay, saturated with fresh water, saturated with salt water, or all of the above. Complex geology makes the interpretations of the geophysical results complicated and uncertain. So, to remove some of the uncertainty, we try to run our geophysical lines through boreholes of known geology.
Of the 50 or more boreholes in Kakuma, only 10 or so have good geologic descriptions; and of those, only 6 or so actually intersect bedrock. So in these early days of our program, water well BH7, about a kilometer north of the Camp, was an important well through which to run our survey. And being outside of the Camp, we thought the going would be easy – no soccer games, no kids playing tug-of-war on our cables, no throngs of curious onlookers in a place where there simply is not much to do.
Unfortunately, we were wrong. Soon after unloading our gear and locating the well of interest, we started scouting the line….no refugees, but thickets of thorny acacia, herds of camels and goats and donkeys (all for food), and a maze of thorn fences comprising Turkana compounds and corrals. Fortunately, Jack of IsraAID had done a great job of making sure there was at least one Turkana WASH student in each field crew. With Peter Kuya, we worked our way down our planned line, slashing away at brush with machetes, and explaining to the Turkana elders that we were exploring for water, we were not exploring for oil, the information could be used for refugees and Turkana, etc. And lots and lots of hand shaking and greetings in Turkana and Swahili.
After a few hours of this we thought we had the green light, and began laying cable. That’s when the head of the village came out waving his goat herding stick and looking angry. “We Turkana never benefit from any of these boreholes!” Meanwhile, 30 m away there is a water tap from BH7 that all morning has seen a steady stream of Turkana men bathing, Turkana women filling UNHCR water containers, Turkana boys carrying buckets of water for livestock, etc. Reasoning was not going to get our survey going, though, but some Turkana-to-Turkana negotiating with our Turkana student eventually got things moving again…that is, until 5 very tall and very angry young men, with very sharp Turkana wrist knives, jumped from inside one of the thorn fenced compounds waving sticks and arms in threatening gestures. Peter Kuya, our Turkana student, was out front with a machete clearing the line. I suggested he put his machete down, a notion he found nonsensical considering the circumstances. Eventually and quite surprisingly, to the rescue came the previously hostile village headman. He calmed things down and got our survey back on track. By early afternoon we had collected what we needed and picked up our instruments and cable. The 40 degree heat and the events of the day convinced us to close up shop early, but not before collecting 800 m of ERT (electrical resistivity tomography) data looking to a depth of 120 m. Meanwhile, our second crew collected 585 m of seismic refraction data tying into the UNHCR borehole to the south.