05 October 2021

Field trip with logistic issues

One of the modules I teach on that starts pretty much immediately in the new academic year, is our geology of Anglesey fieldwork module. And Dei, the module organiser, was of the opinion that it is nice to take the students into the field pretty much as soon as possible. So we started in the very first week! This year we found out, though, that there are disadvantages associated with that.

In the week before term started, Dei messaged us to say there were only seven students registered on the module. That was a bit disappointing. I did respond that I agreed it was, but that that did mean the logistics of the module would be very simple. And that we should enjoy that. And a minibus was hired. Sorted!

Then came welcome week, and its beach trip. During that trip, one of my colleagues went around and told all the students that if they could choose our module, but hadn't, that they should reconsider. And he must have had very good arguments. Immediately afterwards, the registrations for the module started to rocket. And two days beforehand, we suddenly had 17 students registered! That was a completely different situation. Poor old Dei had to scramble to organise transport for all of these. But he managed it! We had three vehicles, and three drivers, with the needed qualifications. One of the vehicles was so big that neither Dei nor me are allowed to drive it. But we had our lab technician Gareth with us so we were okay!

We always start this module with a trip to Llanddwyn island, with its world-famous pillow lavas and melange. The pillow lavas are associated with a mid-oceanic ridge, so the birth of an ocean; the melange is associated with a subduction zone, so the demise of an ocean. And then there are some other rocks in between; some deep-sea muds, and an outcrop of carbonate which is probably a fossil stromatolite, which grew on a seamount. You get the whole ocean, basically! And the island is very beautiful so always a pleasure to walk around on. And the weather was lovely too. The students seemed to have a good time!

Dei gesturing next to a pillow lava

Grim rocks

Lighthouse looking more cheerful

Some of the famous melange in the foreground

I did manage to shock one of the students with my usual consumption pattern when I am out in the field; during lunch I was seen eating a biscuit sandwich, which I think is a perfectly reasonable thing to do if you want to make sure your lunch has enough calories to keep you going, and over the course of the day I emptied three hot flasks and drank most of the water in my water bag. That is just how I function. But this student was speechless at both incidences. I suppose he will have to get used to it!

In the end the only just managed to pull off the logistics; the third vehicle had been hired from a different company than we usually use, and they had a strict curfew for the vehicle to be back. But we got bit carried away, and Dei only made it back to the rental company in the very nick of time. But all's well that ends well! And in two weeks we intend to visit Rhoscolyn with these students. I hope the weather will be similar. But either way; I look forward to it! 

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