15 October 2017

Into the field with the students again

One of the highlights of the Ice and Oceans module is the annual field trip. We take the students to the beach to go and see glacial sediments, and to the mountains to see glacial erosion. We make them take measurements and then go home and interpret the results.

One of the most important things for this trip is the weather. It can be quite unpleasant in the mountains, if the weather is grim! But the forecast was good.

On the day I drove the minibus drivers to the minibus pick-up place, and drove to Main Arts where we picked up the students, and Lynda, who would join us. Then we were off to Aberogwen! We met some self-driving students, and Tasha with her dogs, there. We had to do the beach first, as it was high tide in the afternoon. It was nice!

Lynda mentioned she had been phoned by some colleague as one student had shown up at the wrong place, so had missed our minibuses. I emailed him how to get to where we were, while Lynda already started the spiel on what we were doing and seeing there. That was great! It's good to have a glaciologist with you.

We set the students to work. They seemed to be in a good mood! They were measuring away. Soon the first group was done. They were all quite executive! When all were done I pointed out some especially interesting sediments that fell outside the scope of the trip. Then we were back at the minibuses. Time to drive to Llanberis for lunch.

Students measuring clasts. Pic by David.

In Llanberis there was a bit of panic; we seemed to have one student fewer than before. Oh dear! But we couldn't do much about that with all of them scattered around the town for lunch. We went to Pete's Eats to have some food ourselves. When we got back to the minibuses we did an inventory, and found out one student had signed in with two of the minibuses. He was only one person! So that solved it. We then decided we didn't need to bring all minibuses to Pen-y-Pass, which is notoriously busy. We would all fit inside the minibuses! And Llanberis itself is busy too, so we all drove to a nearby lay-by, left two vehicles, and drove on. Pen-y-Pass was busy indeed, so the minibus drivers decided to unload the students and drive back to aforementioned lay-by. There they could park all three bulky vehicles and come back with only one smaller car. Smart! I rounded up the students and started walking.

When we got to the lake there was good news and bad. The good news was that we had to wait for the slower students to arrive, so I had time for a hot beverage, but the bad news was that the water level was really high. A lot of the glacial striations we would be looking for were under water! Oh dear. But what can you do.

When everybody was up I did my spiel, in which I explain why we are there and what they are expected to do. And then they were off! Lynda and I scampered around to check all students found striations, that they didn't accidentally measure lineations in the lithology, that they wouldn't take their measurements over too large an area, and suchlike. This year it was indeed difficult to find enough for all, but we got there.

Students looking for striations. Pic by David

The water level was so high as to almost overtop the causeway! Pic by David

Students with impressive backdrop

David canoodling with the dogs

When they were all done I did another spiel, and gathered all the data. A few people preferred to hand it in later, in excel, but I went home with quite a lot. And with that we started back. Now we only had to drop the students at the main building, bring the minibuses back, and then bring all drivers back to Ocean Sciences. There we unloaded the helmets and other materials and the day was done. Now the slightly duller task of data entry awaited!

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