Today I started organizing the undergraduate field trip to Namibia and South Africa. Every second year the 3rd year ore deposits class has an international student field trip associated with the course. As the class tutor, I get to help decide where we go.
So far the plan is to visit a platinum mine, a gold mine, and meteorite impact site in South Africa. After that we will fly to Windhoek in Namibia and see gold, copper, uranium and fluorspar deposits. It turns out that the geology of Namibia is really diverse – we could also visit paleontological sites with dinosaur footprints preserved in the rock, a “Snowball Earth” outcrop (rocks that suggest that at one stage in the Earth’s history, the entire Earth was frozen in ice), and large volcanic craters that contain rare minerals – such as emeralds, aquamarine, rose quartz and tourmaline.
My PhD project investigates how some high-temperature (600-1300°C) ore deposits form, so some of the places we will visit on the trip are related to projects I am working on for my PhD project. Other places I haven’t been to are projects that I would like to work on in the future. I have already completed fieldwork in South Africa – below is a picture of me in a platinum mine at Rustenburg, South Africa. The ore they mine is less than a metre thick, and slopes at ~30° – so you can see that walking around in these mines is a bit tricky. The mine we went to was so deep that you had to catch a metal ski-lift to take you to the area they were currently mining.