The Joys and Pains of a Geoscience Fieldtrip

Hi guys,

 

I’m finally back from the dead lol. But seriously, it’s been such a long time since I last blogged. Sorry about that, I’ve been busy procrastinating studying.

Anyway, it’s been a little more than a week since my first real field trip to Dorset (not counting the one to Leicestershire in Welcome Week, that is). Before that trip, I was very much psyched about it because,

1) We’re going to the beach, how cool is that! (it’s my first time going anywhere near the seaside since I came to the UK),

2) I get to travel free (okay fine, it’s not really free actually… but I still don’t have to use any of my own personal funds so I’m happy), and

3) This is my chance to get closer to my coursemates and everyone yosh ganbatte erynne-chan! (that’s literally what I thought when I heard the word ‘fieldwork’. Don’t blame me, I told you I was shy and I’ve always wanted to experience one of those cliche outdoor bonding stuff ‘ 3’)

 

PACKING

I agonised about how many bags to bring for one day before I really started packing. I knew I could fit everything into one bag but I also knew that I was NOT going to lug all my possessions over hills and mountains. And I thought bringing a luggage was a bit too much, especially since I didn’t have a small one at hand (and was too lazy/ shy to borrow one). Finally, I decided to pack everything into my rucksack and put all my geo tools in a small waterproof drawstring bag (which actually was a bag for a sleeping bag) which I will carry around. Monday would be a trial; if I could manage with that bag (aka it didn’t limit my movements or anything), I’ll continue to use it for the duration of the trip. If not, I’ll unpack my rucksack Monday night and use that to carry my tools on Tuesday onwards (BTW if you’re wondering, I just used the drawstring bag for the whole trip).

 

So, moving on… we spent 3 days 2 nights (Monday-Wednesday) frolicking looking at rocks of Jurassic to Cretaceous age and staying at Premier Inn Weymouth.

 

DAY 1

7:30 am Monday morning, everyone was gathered in front of the RSM (a lot of sleepy faces, a couple bright-eyed and bushy tailed ones) to board the coach. We had a half-hour stop somewhere along the way and after that, there was a lot more chatter on the bus.

Around 1 or 2 pm, we finally reached our first locality: Blue Lias Formation, Lyme Regis. We walked down a hill and stopped for lunch. My first impression? “It’s going to be such a pain to climb back up that hill later.” Yeah, me and climbing aren’t exactly the best of friends unfortunately. Going down is easy, getting back up… haha not so much. But I tried to put that aside, we’re finally here and the least I can do is enjoy myself, right?

Sadly, that wasn’t exactly what happened. The weather was… well, let’s just say it definitely wasn’t the ideal weather for a picnic. It was so windy, my fried noodles were flying everywhere (I so regret not bringing a simple sandwich lunch) and my safety helmet actually flew down a cliff onto some muddy sand down below (seriously what is up with me and hats? I keep losing them because of the wind>.<). Anyway, let me just say that it wasn’t the best start…

After lunch, we went to see the Blue Lias Fm; a blue-grey rock full of fossils (mostly ammonites, but also some crinoids, bivalves, etc). We did some sedimentary logging, which is basically a graph of grain size (but we used limestone % in this case as there isn’t much/ any variation in grain size) VS height. Usually I would be geeking out over the size of the ammonites or something, but that day it was beyond freezing. Not to mention, my hard hat, which thankfully was rescued by Matt Genge, was filthy and covered with mud (looking back, it seems hilarious but back then, it certainly didn’t felt like it) All I wanted to do at the time was get it over with and go to the hotel.

We then went to another locality at Bridport (just some boring sandstone cliffs which have been known to fall down and kill people, nothing much…) It wasn’t as bad here because the wind had stopped and the sun (finally) decided to show itself but it was still too cold to swim and I was still slightly shivering. We wrapped it up after 5 pm-ish and drove to the hotel. There was supposed to be 2 person per room but since there’s an odd number of people in our year group and being the last name on the list (my surname does start with a Z after all¯\_(ツ)_/¯), I got a whole room to myself. To be honest, I was kinda disappointed about it ’cause now I’ll miss the #TopClicheBondingChance but staying alone does have its perks. For one, I can take a bath for as long as I want to or watch cartoons without having to worry about being considerate or someone judging me. And I can take the big bed and leave all my stuff on the smaller one so I guess I still win?

After freshening up a bit, I went for dinner in Brewers Fayre attached to the hotel at 7. We’d chose our dinner (main + starter/ dessert) in advance through ESESIS (the dept web-thingy). I picked fish pie and trio of pudding because why pick one dessert when you can have three 😉 I was definitely satisfied with my choice but I’ll confess it miffed me slightly to see everyone devouring their starters when I was famished. It was free time after dinner so I took a long hot bath and decided to have an early night. After all, we’re going to have a looong day ahead of us.

 

DAY 2

I woke up in time for breakfast before we left at 9 am. We managed to leave on time this time and after picking up our packed lunches (a sandwich, a bag of crisps, an apple/ orange and a chocolate bar), we left for Man O’ War Baywhich is simply the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I didn’t quite manage to snap a pic because I was too preoccupied figuring out what colours I’d need to paint the scene (and also ’cause I’m such a lazy ass) but here’s a pic I stole took from the ESE webpage.

Image result for man o'war bay
It’s gorgeous, right? But trust me, it’s better in person when you can see the whole landscape including the sun glitter and the sky *sigh* 

We got into a bit of trouble getting down the cliff because the steps were busted so we had to go down the hard way but I’m not complaining. It was such a pleasant day; the sun was out and it was too cold and we’re in a picturesque place so a little mud wasn’t so bad. Plus, I consider myself lucky in the mud area since I was still relatively clean other than my boots and the ends of my pants. After everyone had safely arrived at the bottom of the cliff, we spent the whole day exploring the rocks on the coast. We also did some geological sketching (a sketch of where the rocks change in age/ type from one to the other) and calculating grid references (using a compass and a given map).

Favourite part was dripping acid on the rock to see if it fizzes. It’s kind of amazing how much information you can actually get just from observing if a rock reacts with acid, especially if some parts fizzes more than others or not at all.

Favourite geological feature of the day: a slickenslide in the Chalk Fm and the folds in the Purbeck Group.

Izrynne’s thought of the day: Geologists sure are obsessed with cliffs (and also probably have a death wish).

Note to self: Do not leave your clipboard just because you were disappointed that you didn’t need it yesterday + BRING EXTRA SHOES.

The rest of the day was a bit rushed as we were slightly behind schedule. We needed to be at the conference centre (a church somewhere which I’ve forgotten the name) by 7, so everyone was back on the coach after changing. Dinner was fish and chips or if you didn’t fancy some (or you didn’t manage to grab one), pizza. I was looking forward to having some fish and chips so I was lucky I could grab one in time. It was literally the last box on the table and it was just sitting there and no one was paying attention to it… so I glance left, right, left, snatch, acts normal, quietly goes awayImage result for laughing emoji

The two sessions were 45 minutes each and were fairly relaxed. The first was a briefing on the mapping we were to undertake the next day and the second was some feedback on our note-taking and sketches. By the end of the day, my leg muscles were sore from the hike back up that cliff earlier.

 

DAY 3

The last day of the trip. Oh, the mixed feelings I had… relieved that it’s finally over, sad that it’s over, excited for the mapping, tired physically and emotionally, thinking “I definitely need to shape up before the next trip”, all of those and more were going around in my mind, turning me into an emotional wreck on the inside. Ofc you won’t see any of that on that outside other than a maybe slightly annoyed look on my face.

Anyway, this was yet another rushed day. In the morning, someone had overslept probably from exhaustion so we were a bit late heading out. When we got to Lulworth Cove, we moved in groups of 3 to 5 (or was it 3 to 6?) and had 4 hours to produce our first geological maps. Being amateurs, this was hardly enough for us to cover the whole area and we were barely running from one locality to the next. Thankfully, the weather was rather agreeable and even warm enough for me to not wear a jacket (although that might have been all the climbing and runningImage result for thinking emoji) We didn’t even have time to stop for lunch so it was a good thing I’d stuff myself during breakfast that morning.

At 2 pm, time was up so we all handed over our maps and notebooks ( which BTW are yellow and waterproof so it’s fine if you accidentally dropped it in the sea… unless you used water-soluble pen to write in it in which case you’re screwed) and boarded the coach again, ready for our ride back to the RSM. With this, the trip was officially over and so was term.

 

So, wow that was long… but anyhow, that was how it went. Was it tough? Sure it was. I mean that’s how life is, isn’t it? It’s not always an easy ride and like I said, there were times when I felt like giving up or just cry because I’m cold and tired and grumpy and dirty but hey, it wouldn’t be fun (or life) if it wasn’t like that. That’s just how humans are. And one thing to take from that is, we will never be fully satisfied because humans are greedy. We always want things to go our way and we complain (even if you’re just thinking it and not voicing it out loud) when they don’t and we’re so very fickle. And it’s okay. As long as you don’t give up, and keep moving forward, or you do something/ take action about whatever it is that you don’t like, then it’s fine. Just remember; always take responsibility for everything you do, say or think and that’s good enough. On a different note, I so need to exercise/ get in shape before r trip to Spain in May so that I won’t suffer/ be a burden to others/ be able to enjoy it more.

But, I’ve written way too much. I hope it’ll be useful for any prospective geoscientists who might read this (although I doubt that many people read this anyway¯\_(ツ)_/¯) Anyway, thanks so much for everyone who took the time to read this, I know I tend to write too much. Bye. See you guys soon <3

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *