The last field trip that our undergraduates take is the fourth year, Part III trip to Spain. Run in the break between Lent & Easter term the trip aims to gather all the aspects of the course and put them together as a cohesive whole. Other trips focus on specific research areas: e.g. Sedimentology and Petrology – the 1B Southwest trip to Dorset & Cornwall, or Geophysics in Greece, or developing mapping skills in Sedburgh & on Skye. The Spain trip can be seen as the closing bookend to our students’ discovery (and love) of geology that begins on the first year trip to the Isle of Arran.
Early Sunday morning the department was full of life as bleary eyed finalists arrived eager for their final field trip. The Spanish coastline would not disappoint, a week of beautiful sunshine and exciting, challenging geology lay ahead.
The end of Lent term brings with it the start of the undergrad fieldtrip season. The first group of 1A’s left bright and early on Thursday morning for the Ayrshire coast in Scotland, ready for their first proper fieldtrip away from Cambridgeshire.
Day 1 – Off we go!
I’d never been to any part of the southwest so I was very much looking forward to my second Earth Sciences Department field trip – third if we count an afternoon at Ketton Quarry. My first big trip had been to Arran the previous year, to my mind it would take a lot to surpass that experience. This account will contain little to no geological verbiage in order not to bring shame to myself or the department.
Spain 2016 outshone Spain 2015 the moment the plane took off from Gatwick Airport. David Hodell, our mighty leader, breathed a sigh of relief when French Air Traffic Control decided not to strike at the same time as the Cambridge fourth-year Earth Sciences fieldtrip. 29 students and 8 demonstrators left the drizzle behind us and landed in sunny south-east Spain. A quick change into shorts in the airport loos and we were ready for terrible sunburn.
The end of Michaelmas had arrived and it was time for 21 Part IIs and 8 demonstrators to head for Greece. By coach and plane we travelled to Athens, where we picked up our minibuses (without telling the hire company how much off-roading we had planned!) and headed for Loutraki…
This year’s Cornwall leg of the SW of England field trip was bigger and sunnier than ever – tanned faces, record number of students, big smiles and lots of lovely igneous and metamorphic rocks. The trip starts in Falmouth to show the second year undergrads some world-class geological localities and then to Bude for impressive structures associated with the formation and closure of the Culm Basin. The challenge for our enthusiastic second years being how to align all this new geological information with the broader tectonics of the Variscan Orogeny and Devonian & Carboniferous geology.
The annual first year undergraduate field trip to the Isle of Arran, Scotland took place as usual at the end of March and beginning of April. This is always an exciting trip – first years get their first taste of what being a ‘real geologist’ is all about and the demonstrators get to revisit the truly spectacular wealth of geology the island has to offer.