Greetings from the capital of Mongolia! With over 60% nomads, UB (pop. 1 million) is really Mongolia’s only city, with other towns all under 40,000. UB is an interesting, rapidly growing city, with a very eclectic patchwork of old and new.
It looks like we’re all set for an early departure to the Gobi Desert tomorrow. We spent the day changing money, picking up some last minute field supplies and sorting out field equipment. Things here feel pretty similar to last year, but there’s certainly a lot of hustle and bustle into the leadup to the Parliamentary elections on the 28th. With recent issues including the former president being arrested on corruption charges, and a lot of seats up for grabs, there’s a lot of anticipation.
Anyhow, our rough plan is as follows:
We’ll head to the Bayn Dzag, near the town of Dalanzadgad. Bayn Dzag is famous for some of the best dinosaur fossil localities in the world. There, we’ll sample paleosols, ancient soils, for clay and carbonate minerals which can tell us about the climatic conditions when they were deposited. After Bayn Dzag, we travel west into the remote Nemegt Basin, where we’ll continue sampling. After Nemegt, we have planned a very adventurous several hundred mile drive to the northwest to more field sites near Altay. Finally, we travel west to the town of Khovd along a main road (main roads are still pretty wild though!) and sample at 3 or so other sites. From Khovd, we’ll begin the several day drive back across the country to UB, completing our several thousand mile clockwise loop. We plan on being out in the field for about three weeks as we’re scheduled to leave the country on June 8. I’ll check in with brief updates from the field or the occasional town along the way.