Day 10 | April 18, 2004
Yesterday, we (Lillie, Maarten, Erik, and I) landed on Pagan Island, where we were greeted by a surprising number of locals. Since the island was evacuated after the 1981 eruption, a few old residents have returned in hopes of permanently resettling the island. This was lucky for us, as they offered their ATV's and knowledge of the island to help us sample.
The four of us were driven about 3 miles through a thick pine and coconut forest. We then hiked up and over a ridge, into a large, old caldera which housed a lake and two cinder cones. Erik and I headed for the cones to find good olivine-rich scoria (which we did), while Lillie and Maarten searched the lake region for hot springs (sadly, they found none). We rested for a while, lamenting the lack of gases, then cheered ourselves by eating some coconut that Maarten managed to get from a nearby tree (Photo 2). Back at our camp, Sandi (our newly-adopted local guide) warned us about wandering wild cows. So, despite the amazing constellations above, we decided to sleep in tents, safe from trampling hooves.
Today we awoke (having avoided any cow mishaps) and were happy to welcome Alison, Dave, and Tobias to Pagan when their helicopter landed at 10 am. Although I am absolutely terrified of flying, our pilot Mike assured me a safe flight, so I got on the helo with Erik to sample some higher cinder cones (Mike was right - we were safe, and the view was incredible! I can't imagine sampling volcanoes without one ever again!)
While Erik and I explored cloud-covered cones, the rest of the group split up to look for gases and rocks. Happily, both teams found fumaroles! Lillie and Maarten were flown to a flank crater on Mt. Pagan, from which they hiked to the summit and found some fumaroles at the rim. Alison, Dave, and Tobias were on southern Pagan sampling another crater. They made a video of the gas collection. Afterwards, they continued on to Alamagan volcano by helicopter, then returned to Pagan to camp. The four of us returned to the Wecoma, sad to say goodbye to solid ground, but looking forward to a shower, some rest, and more great days of sampling.