Zombies: A Seismic Defense

A farewell note to a former coworker, inspired by John Rennie at PLOS:

As trained geophysicists, we’ve kept the office mercifully zombie-free since the Apocalypse, even maintaining a rigorous field schedule. A global catastrophe of undead hordes roaming the streets is no excuse to fall behind on contracts, after all.

No one is better at blending the roles of Crew Chief with Zombie Exterminator than the ever-calm Seismic Blaster Jeff “Stallone”. In his methodical manner of mixing high-quality data collection with utter mayhem, he’d direct the planting of geophones and burial of charges at the off-ends and evenly spaced along the lines. After squeezing the air-horn and issuing a radio call warning of imminent detonation to any living locals, he’d wait for the noisy announcements to serve their secondary purpose: drawing hordes of brain-starving creatures into his blast zone. For endless months at countless jobs, Jeff continued to collect seismic reflection and refraction data, determining depth of overburden and characterizing bedrock velocity profiles while decimating the zombie population in the outback bush of Beautiful British Columbia in dynamite explosions of dismembered, decaying limbs.

One day came a radio call I’ll never forget. His slow drawl sounded out, scattered with static but stress-free: “Yeah, so we’ve got a zombie coming down the line… a big one, probably from the old diamond drill rig up the hill. We’ve already fired that end of the spread, so we’re just going to move on back to the far off-ends…” A few moments later, he continued, “It looks like we’ve got undead loggers coming up the line, between us and the undetonated charges. We’re just going to stay put for a while, see how this develops…”

No further check-ins came, but when the crew-change helicopter arrived at the pickup location, they found Jeff and his team relaxing, unruffled by their close encounter. Asked about his day, Jeff replied they’d finished the spreads.

Goodbye, Jeff, and good luck in the flatlands.

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