PCSB Lake District Field Trip 2016

Posted by lcb14 at May 24, 2016 10:15 AM |
Aside from stalling a few times on the M6 we made it up to The Lakes in three rattling minibuses, generally all in one piece! Like us, you might know a bit about walking in the Lake District – the land of a thousand weathers, many pubs, a few sheep and some big hills! Like us, you probably don’t (or didn’t) know much about the geology that forms the Lake District; why it has both big hills and the expansive eponymous lakes.

Last weekend was the annual PCSB summer term camping field trip. This extracurricular student-organised trip offers very different geological experiences to most university field courses. Being extracurricular, student-organised and drawing on the wealth of expertise that is Professor Mike Branney’s career researching the area, the students can mould the trip to suit their interests.

This year saw us exploring the volcanic and sedimentary rocks of the central Lake District, near Langdale. This is an area of ancient caldera volcanism and a great place to investigate questions about supervolcano eruptions and the sediments that form around them. Why don’t rocks from pyroclastic flows look quite like other density current deposits? What goes on inside the eruption column of a supervolcano? What happens to ash that falls onto water? What about when a pyroclastic density current flows over wet sand? It’s quite a surprise – I suggest you look up pepperite!

PCSB summer term camping field trip to the Lake District

For geologists, field trips like these are a great alternative to library revision. They don’t just provide a chance to camp in beautiful spring weather and explore the pubs of the Lake District. Fieldwork really brings together the theoretical geological processes, read about over the year, with the physical evidence of the rocks that first sparked these ideas. This link can get strained in the run-up to exam time as the written word takes priority, trying to remember that extra graph or one more reference, but here perhaps H. H. Read can make a suggestion: “the best geologist is the one who has seen the most rocks”.

Massive weathered ignimbrite with fiame
Massive weathered ignimbrite with fiame

Bedded ash fall
Bedded ash fall

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