Exploring the Sierras

Posted by lcb14 at Jan 13, 2016 01:55 PM |
PhD student Joe Emmings recounts his visit to southern Spain with the second-year University of Leicester Geology undergraduate students. Joe was one of four postgraduate demonstrators on the Spain field course working alongside the leaders, Dr Tom Harvey and Dr Sarah Lee to provide valuable field training and experience for our students.

Spain has many great benefits for geological fieldwork. For starters, the geological evolution of Spain is rather different from England and so we get to see some unusual rocks and much younger stratigraphy; many of the rocks that are exposed are approximately 12 million years old or younger. It’s not only that the geology of Spain is different to England, though, but the quality of exposure and preservation of geological features is spectacular. This is partly because the southern Spain has a typically arid climate which tends to alter the rate and character of weathering of rocks. As a result, southern Spain is among one of the best places to visit in the world for understanding a range of geological processes, from the genesis and fill of sedimentary basins to the drying up of the ancient Mediterranean Sea; to complex structural deformation, volcanism and metamorphism; and that is why the University of Leicester heads there every year with a cohort of undergraduate students.

Students studying the southern spanish geologyThe second-year students see a great range of rocks and through the week they are challenged by several assessed exercises, including sedimentary logging, field sketches and field mapping; all of this is brought to reconstruct the complex geological evolution of the area. The days are long, but rewarding, as it is field training that provides students with many of the key skills required for industry and academic research. Evenings are spent building on the day’s work and developing ideas, with discussions often migrating to the local bar. In my opinion, this time you spend thinking about and discussing geology in a more relaxed atmosphere with colleagues is most valuable.

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