Day Four – Saturday 5th September

Today we walked to site as it was only at Port Mellon.  Here are some of the best reported peats and lowest peats. We arrived early and had to wait for the sea to retreat and the peats to emerge from underwater.  We followed the tide down using our augur to establish the extent of the peats, using spades, ranging poles, beach litter and students to mark out a grid, until someone thoughtfully bought a bundle of bamboo canes! Using this grid, we managed to auger across a large amount of the beach, but as the tide reached its lowest, it was clear that the peats extended much further out into the water, leading to two members of the team getting rather wet in order to plot the edges using the GPS. The peats appeared to be quite deep and rich in organic material so we decided to take a sample, again by using a monolith tin. This was much easier to accomplish on this site, as the peat was very soft and so a tin could be knocked in from the top using the rubber mallet, which was lucky, as the hole was full of water almost as soon as it had been dug. This would have made taking the sample rather difficult. We also took a core using what is essentially half a metal drainpipe with a handle. This was pushed into the deeper sediments under the initial sample to see what exists beneath.  Once again we raced the tide to fill the hole – this appears to be becoming a recurrent theme.

We had a number of visitors towards the end of the day, including Todd Stevens, the local diver who came to discuss taking samples from deeper under the water in an area where he has seen submerged tree trunks and roots – perhaps evidence of a submerged forest? We were also visited by Eleanor Breen, the island archaeologist, and her family.  We finished relatively early, as the tide started to come in, covering most of the peat. While most of the team packed up and took the equipment back to base, Charlie and Jacqui went to be interviewed on Radio Scilly – to be broadcast on Monday. Unfortunately we managed to misplace an auger, so if anyone is in the local area and finds it let us know!

As we finished so early, half the team walked across the island to Old Town, to investigate some reported peats in the area. These were found about half a metre under the sand, though the excitement of finding  the peat was nothing compared to that conjured by the sighting of a basking shark just outside the bay. The team also visited Porth Hellick, but by this point the tide had come in too far.

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