The necessity of local networking
This post is a preparation for the summary of the last week of our fieldwork in Argentina. In addition, it’s a big thank you to our locals who helped us a lot and made the work that successful as it was.
But let me start in chronological order. After our field school, we planned one additional week of fieldwork in the Metán-basin to find suitable spots to install our seismographs. Before we actually started, we spent nearly one and a half days with meet&greets in the small villages in the study area. Thanks to the professor in Salta we had meetings with the mayor (“El intendente”) of El Galpón and with a guy from the civil defense Ministry. As a reminder, El Galpón was hardly struck by an earthquake in October 2015. This circumstance was very helpful, because the people were very afraid of the earthquake and they were very open to understand what happened back then. So, both contacts forwarded us to other local authorities in adjacent villages and we spent a full day of shaking hands and explaining what we want to do. Even an assistant of the governor wanted to speak with us.
In addition, the mayor introduced us to a person from the municipality to guide us through the area. This local guide was our big gold nugget. On the one hand he knows the no man’s land like his own house and on the other hand every Tom, Dick and Harry. This combination was awesome and made our fieldwork quite efficient (in Argentina you cannot expect efficiency). We pointed on a spot on a map where we want to have a look for a potential seismograph installation, he made a phone call and one our later we were at this point and a very good place to install our instrument. He was also very helpful to find answers or solutions to our scientific curiosity as he quickly figured out on what we are pointing at due to the questions we raised. The last point were the wildlife experiences of him and his companion. They had very good detection skills of snakes and can distinguish between poisonous and harmless ones. In addition, they cleared a lot of paths with their machetes, as we would be lost instead.
Before the field trip my supervisor (the new word nowadays: PI – personal instructor) told me it would be very helpful to get in contact with local people and involve them maybe, at least for security of our instruments. Back then, I thought it would just be some annoying talking and meeting. But during this trip I changed my mind completely and realized how necessary it is to be in contact with local people as a lot of doors (or gathers in our case) were open because we were in contact to the right persons.