Skip to navigationSkip to contentSkip to footer



TREX 2018 Day 8: Calvin and Claire at the South Point

Written by:
TREX 2018 Day 8: Calvin and Claire at the South Point

By Suchan Vivatsethachai ‘20

Now that we have put all of the sensors around the island, we drove along the same path again to pick them all up. We went much quicker since we did not have to explain or talk to people to get permission to install the sensors. We again mounted `Calvin’ on the top of the car, but this time, we also mounted another box of sulfur dioxide sensor beside Calvin. We named it `Claire’. Data from Claire would help us understand more about the effect of sulfur dioxide on particulate matter formation and size.

Calvin and Claire on the top of the car

Most sensors we checked on were working great! All, except for one at the Thai restaurant, kept counting particulate matters overnight, providing enough data for us to do the analysis during our remaining stay in Hawaii. Unfortunately, we lost one sensor at the balcony beside the Thai restaurant, Bangkok House. It didn’t last overnight and died because the wire that connected the sensor with the solar panel was disconnected by someone.

Sensor in front of a Thai restaurant left disconnected

After a long drive, we decided to bring Calvin and Claire to the get some clean air as a baseline at the South Point. It is the southernmost point of the United States. Calvin and Claire should be proud that they once stepped on this point! The South Point is part of the Kilauea volcano, which is the youngest and southernmost volcano of all five volcanoes in the big island of Hawaii. Unfortunately, there is a growing submarine volcano, Loihi, to the southwest of Kilauea. When this volcano emerges above sea level, which may be in the next thousands of years, the South Point location must be changed!

The South Point


Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.