Frogspawn, Fieldwork, and Empty Hallways
Easter; that time of year when the daffodils are out, lambs are bleating in the fields, frogs spawn in every drop of still water and students disappear to far-flung exotic locations. Like Connemara. Every Easter, the School echoes to the sound of footsteps from the few staff that remain in the department, as each thinks about their colleagues who are out in the elements, teaching their students all there is to know about how much it rains in the Lake District, how rocks bend in Pembrokeshire, or how to sift dirt from rivers in Scotland.
This year saw a grand total of 508 students (this is around 70%), on 11 different trips, depart Leeds for the experience which many will later call the pinnacle of their degree programme;
fieldwork. As a department, we booked: 16 51-seater return coaches; 6 support vehicles; 4 full-cohort return ferries; 3 full-cohort return flights; and 3 minibuses.
First year Geological and Geophysical Sciences, and Geography-Geology students packed up for the sunny delights of south-west Wales with Phil Murphy and Vern Manville, to learn about the Variscan Orogeny and to learn the basic skills a geologist requires in the field.
Second year geologists and geography-geology students hopped across the Irish Sea to visit Connemara and County Clare, with Dan Morgan and Jeff Peakall, where they’d find (hidden amongst the bogs and fog) dramatic cliffs, worm burrows, mud volcanoes, folded rocks and ancient eruptions, and have a practise of mapping for the first time.
Meanwhile, second year Environmental Scientists with Meteorology and Climate Science students set off to the Lake District, to Blencathra, with Andrew Ross and Ian Burke to investigate the hands-on environmental and meteorological techniques used by professionals.
Over in Amsterdam, the BA side of year two and BSc Sustainability & Environmental Management enjoyed learning about the cultural differences between the UK and the Netherlands, with Sally Russell, where they partook in bicycle tours, boat rides along the canals, pancakes and museums.
The finalist geologists split up into four different locations: Some went to sample Ophiolites in Cyprus with Andrew McCaig; some joined Richard Collier on the Yorkshire Coast looking for oil reservoir analogues and looking for fossils; some accompanied Simon Bottrell and Jerry Lee to Northern Ireland to look at Quaternary geology; and the remainder flew to remotest Northern Ireland to visit gold mines and dig around in streams with Rob Chapman.
On another continent, Susie Sallu took some intrepid MSc students to Tanzania to experience issues in environmental development at first hand.
Rob Chapman returns from Northern Ireland, only to hop on a coach to take a (rather large) class up to Leadhills, Scotland, to seek their fortune like the 49ers of the Wild West, and pan for gold.
Geoff Lloyd has the delight of taking the returning geologists from Ireland to Anglesey, to look at the deformed ancient rocks on the coast.
Easter is always a busy time in the School’s calendar, even if activity around the department over the period doesn’t reflect that. Fieldwork is often remarked upon as the best part of life as a student in the department, and long may that continue.
Scott Anthony Martin – Student Support Office