I was wrong to initiate field research in the Volcanic Tablelands and collect rock samples without explicit clearance from the local BLM authority. I recognize the error in my judgment and apologize to the local tribal groups, including members of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, for the impact of my actions.
While the area’s geology is of significant interest, it is also of cultural and historical importance. I have always tried to conduct field research in a manner that is respectful of the land and its people. In this situation, I failed. I appreciate that I did not realize the damage I was causing at the time and that our efforts to assess the site for signs of petroglyphs and confirm that there were no prominent petroglyphs was not enough. There is no excuse for sampling without permission, and more broadly intruding on sacred land is wrong. I am horrified that I inadvertently collected samples from a sacred area that I too cherish and respect. I sincerely and deeply apologize for the disturbance we caused.
From the moment I was notified and realized the violation and oversight, I have sought to make amends for my actions. I am committed to continuing to educate myself and to bringing awareness to others on how to conduct field work in a more responsible and respectful manner. There should be clear consent of land managers and indigenous people prior to engaging in field work. I hope that I can continue to make amends through my continued efforts to bring awareness to the significance of this matter.
Joe Kirschvink California Institute of Technology July 2021