When this experiment first came up everyone at the office kept thinking it was going to be in Armenia. You know, the country east of Turkey. Finally we figured out the real location was a town about 170 kilometers west of Bogotá, Colombia. For people that travel as much as we do you would think we would have known better. To our defense we did figure it out by looking at the latitude and longitude of the project area.

Colombia. No one goes there on vacation. Not with all of those drug dealers, rebels, kidnappers, and a whole lot of other myths running around the country. Well I went there for a short -- too short -- working vacation and yes, they are all there, just like a lot of other places in the world, but there is a whole lot more in Colombia than that. Whenever someone asks me about going to a "dangerous" country I ask them if they have ever mailed a letter in Oklahoma City, or went to work in Manhattan in September. The whole world is a dangerous place.

This experiment was done to study the ground (what else?) in and around, but mostly below, the town of Armenia, Quindio (the department or 'state'), Colombia. There was an earthquake about 20 kilometers from the town of 290,000 people on January 25, 1999. It was a magnitude 5.9. It was not a really large one, but it killed more than 900 people, left over 100,000 homeless, and left about 60% of the city destroyed.

I worked on a project in Venezuela (here) and when it was finished I took a little time off in Venezuela, and then flew to Bogotá for about a week. This was not "my" experiment. I just went to get a chance to see Colombia since I was in the neighborhood, and to help a fellow PASSCAL person, Eliana, who was the one actually assigned to the experiment. She is from Colombia, and knew some of the people that were going to be working with on the experiment. We worked with a pretty enthusiastic group from the Department Of Geosciences at the National University Of Colombia. The original National University was founded in 1573. Below is one of the main gates to the campus.

After a slight mix-up at the airport in Bogotá (at least I got to see quite a bit of the airport in five hours ) I left in a taxi armed with a small piece of paper that had the name of the principal investigator (PI) and the address of the university in Spanish. The taxi dropped me off at one of the main gates to the university's campus and after staring for a while at a large map just inside the gate I wandered not quite aimlessly around the campus until I stumbled on to the geosciences department building. I made it into the building just as Eliana was on her way out to find out what had happened to me.

Eliana, Carlos Vargas, German Camacho and I went over the game plan for the experiment the first day that we arrived at the university.

There was an old seismic recorder system in the teacher's lounge of the geosciences building.

The equipment was tested and packed, as usual, at the PASSCAL Instrument Center in Socorro, New Mexico. The equipment was some of our "older" Reftek 72A-07G recorders. They are a bit less portable than the newest equipment, but they still work well. At least they are more portable than the equipment above.

Some of the GPS antennas. 35 sets of equipment plus some spares were shipped for the experiment.

The campus was quite large with a lot of open lawns.


The Graduate Human Sciences Library is a new building on the campus that was designed by the famous Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona. His designs are based on the traditional method of bricklaying that is used in Colombia.

The building was large with many open areas and small water troughs running all over the place. The building was quite nice and there really were a lot of bricks.