“Welcome to South-Central Texas”

“Welcome to South-Central Texas”

Having grown up in South-Central Los Angeles bordering the city of Compton, to now using geophysical techniques in the field in South-Central Texas, it’s been quite the journey so far. It’s been two weeks since I moved to San Antonio, the “large city with a small-town feel,” not typically the setting you think of when people refer to national parks. There is persistent heat in this urban area, as well as sandstone and limestone formations, testaments of an ancient inland sea that once blanketed the state of Texas.

My name is Emmanuel Quintero. I’m a first-generation college student, a child of Mexican immigrants, and I have just completed my master’s in earth and planetary science from the University of California, Berkeley. While my graduate focus was in geology and geospatial analysis, my B.A. was in environmental earth science, also from UC Berkeley. I’ve worked as a laboratory assistant and graduate student instructor at the university and am happy to now be gaining valuable experience as a geology assistant. At 23 years old, I’m proud and grateful to be here, and though I’ve only been in Texas for a short while, it’s been amazing to me already!

Misson San José y San Miguel de Aguayo in San Antonio Missions National Park!

So far, my internship has challenged me to take on hefty responsibilities. My team, consisting of professors and researchers at the nearby St. Mary’s College, are relying on me to accrue the knowledge surrounding the geology of the five missions. These missions make up the entirety of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and it will be necessary to engage this understanding of the underlying geology to better understand the subsidence that now threatens the preservation of this World Heritage Site.

One of my colleagues in the Park Service admiring the old walls of the second floor of Mission Concepcion, the primary mission of concern for our study.

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park holds in its ruins a deep and rich history closely tied to the people of San Antonio; it is important to ensure the preservation of this history, whether good or bad. Using techniques and tools like ground-penetrating radar, GPS, pH testing, XRF analysis, and GIS, we hope to contribute to the body of knowledge that will help consult the National Park Service in their ongoing efforts to keep these historical places standing.

Using our Trimble GPS to record coordinates and elevation with a colleague from St. Mary’s College to later develop a general elevation profile of the Mission Concepcion site using GIS. We hope to better understand the direction of water runoff and locate areas of potential subsidence of the limestone foundations that underly the Mission.

Mission Concepcion will be our primary study site as the formation of sinkholes is something our incredible team at St. Mary’s College and the National Park Service are hoping to learn more about. For now, I’ll be heading the GIS side of things but there are various projects we will be working on throughout the summer. So stay tuned to find out what we might turn up!

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