22 October 2014

Field day recce

I'm not only lecturing about glaciology. I have to show the students in the field too! But teaching in the field if you've never been to that actual field isn't easy. And it wouldn't be necessary! James, who normally leads that field trip, even when he's not teaching the module, would show me. And we would bring Guy along, the lab chap, who is in charge of all the kit we need, and a girl who'll probably be temporarily taking over Guy's job while he focusses on imbibing the knowledge of one of our technicians who is about to retire. We don't want that chap to take all his knowledge with him! So we might get Jess in addition to Guy for a while. And with a bit of luck she'll come to the actual field day.

We'd set off on a Friday afternoon. Fridays have lunch seminars, and James needed to be there. So it was 13:30 by the time we left. But that was early enough! We figured from last day's recce (a recce of a recce, that was!) we could do this day in a downhill direction too. So we drove into Snowdonia.In convoy; James had decided to bring the dog, like he'd done on that spring day on the beach long ago. She needed only minutes to melt Jess her heart. She's that kind of dog!

 All my companions on their way to Llyn Llydaw

We walked up the miner's track, that I had followed down from the top of Snowdon. I had noticed the nice glacial features, like whalebacks (ice-smoothed rocks) and moraines, but I hadn't paid particular attention to glacial strations. And that would be the focus of this site! We'd let the students measure the striations in order to find out if the glacier that left them was topography-driven or not. Or in other words; if it had been a simple valley glacier, or a big fat ice sheet that overran the entire topography. Let's just hope the lake is low when we get there for the real field day; this recce showed us the nicest striations are rather low along the slope.

James showing me how you teach a student to measure thedirection of a striation. Pic by Guy

Penny had her own ideas of what this site was for

That was the first half done. We ate a bit on the parking lot and then went on, to the beach. And indeed; it was fine. What the students here have to do is measure the inclination of the clasts in the tills that are exposed in the cliff face. That will give them the direction of ice flow. Was this ice from the valley we just came from? And there was a nice startified unit exposed too; what was that? All very interesting. This landscape has so many stories to tell! I hope the students will be as excited about as I am. I'm glad I've now seen the sites; hearsay isn't enough for inspired teaching! And if we can find enough drivers for the actual day I think all's sorted...

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