The students gained valuable field experience in California, applying the skills they learned in the classroom at UH Hilo to real world situations.
By Susan Enright.
Geology students at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo took a two-week hands-on field trip in May to some of California’s most amazing geological formations, part of the geology department‘s Field Education Program. Typically, department faculty take a group of students every other year, but this was the first trip since 2019 due to the pandemic’s disruptions.
“Exploring the geologic wonders of California,” explains the UH Hilo Geology Club on its Instagram where they have posted a cataog of photos and a short video of their explorations. “From Rainbow Basin to Death Valley, we dived into advanced field methods during our unforgettable two weeks at Geology Field Camp. Mapping techniques, road trips, and epic hikes were just the beginning! Our adventure reached its peak at the White Mountain Research Center, where we delved deep into mapping the magnificent Poleta Folds. This was no ordinary camp; it was our Field Boot Camp!”
Professor of Geology Steve Lundblad and Associate Professor of Geology Jim Anderson co-led the trip. The students had already taken a field methods class that includes extensive field training on Hawai’i Island. “This optional experience to California allows the students who have taken the on-island field methods class, to hone their skills mapping rocks—with other than [the island’s] basalt—that have been deformed, folded and faulted,” says Lundblad.
Students on the trip were Celia Chmielowski, Caiti Fix, Paige Johnson, Teagan Maher, Baylee McDade, Ski Mecham, Edward Miller, Hannah Steiner, Natsumi Takeda, and Hunter Valencia.
The group spent a few days in the Mojave Desert, an area near Barstow, Calif., in a place called Rainbow Basin. “Students get a lot of practice orienteering with map and compass, and created a map of a feature called the Skyline Tuff,” says Lundblad.
The geology students also took a day-long field trip to see some of the features in Death Valley National Park, including Badwater Basin, which is below sea level and the lowest spot in North America.
“We then did a couple of projects mapping in the Poleta Folds—a classic area used by many universities to train students,” says Lundblad. This area is located in the Deep Springs Valley, one valley to the east of Owens Valley in eastern California.
The group also spent time at the University of California’s White Mountain Research Center in Bishop, California. “The students worked in one of the classroom areas,” says Lundblad. “This is also a great part of the trip, as there are often other earth science student groups there. This year we shared the station with a group from Bristol, England.”
In addition to the mapping projects, the group explored some of the spectacular geology near Mammoth Mountain and Mono Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
“The students gain valuable experience working in the field and applying the skills they learned in the classroom to real world situations,” says Lundblad. “This year was a special one with the heavy rain and snow over the winter. Many great flowers in bloom in the desert!”
Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.