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military geology and geography of the southern Marianas

March 4 2004 at 2:46 PM
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Response to Weather in Saipan during WW2

Saipan was fought in mid-June through mid-July. The onset of the fanchunan, the Chamorro word for the wet season, is in late June. At this time you get heavy rains interspersed with stretches of sunny days. later in July you can get typhoons (one such interrupted the Tinian campaign).

The geology of saipan is mixed mafic volcanics and carbonates. Both weather to deep reddish lateritic soils; rain turns the laterite into a gluey mud, easily churned by vehicles. The carbonate areas are underlain by extremely rugged karstic (cave) terrains (examples were Hell's Pocket and Purple Heart Ridge). In both cases the rain quickly drains away through subterranean passages, so that one or two good sunny days turns the mud back to dust (any abandoned vehicles are baked into a brick). This dariange means there is very little surface water (streams or ponds) and much of the hardest fighting centered around control of deep wells that tap into lenses of fresh water "floating" on colder seawater.

Military geology is quite a specialty. Sessions at the joint SE and NE session of the Geological Society of Maerica Meetings this year will be on the military geology of the Civil War (War Between the States to the better informed).

 
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  1. impressive typos - Ed Gilbert on Mar 4, 5:36 PM
    1. Ed, are you a geologist? - Bryan Barnes on Mar 5, 10:50 AM
      1. yep - Ed Gilbert on Mar 5, 5:24 PM
     


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