By Scott Meyerink (Guest contributor) and Kelly Strzepek (blog busy-body)
ANU first year students recently took part in a field trip to Eden for the Earth and Marine science module, The Blue Planet. The course is designed to provide and overview of the science, and enable students to use the scientific method to help explain global change and the Earth and ocean system.
The three-day field trip started with an investigation into Snowy Mountain geology. Afterall, no field trip would be complete without a visit to a road cutting (see picture). Students studied the basalts of the Monaro plain observing how the geology changed as they drove to Cooma and Mt Gladstone. At Mt Gladstone they investigated regional metamorphism before proceeding along the Snowy Mountains highway toward Eden. En route there were several opportunities to observe granites and meandering river systems. The bus driver further enlightened the students on the recent floods in Bega and the burgeoning cheese industry. We are assuming there is no correlation, although if there was, we could plot it.
In Eden, students boarded the Whale Watching vessel, the Cat Balou, and headed out from Twofold bay for a crash course in oceanographic fieldwork. Despite some sea-sickness, a plankton net and CTD (measuring Conductivity, Temperature and Depth) were successfully deployed both inshore and offshore, recording biological and chemical information about Eden Coastal waters. Temperature, salinity and chlorophyll fluorescence were analysed on-board, while plankton samples were examined at the local high school. This dataset might not be sufficient to model the biogeochemistry of Australia’s eastern seaboard, but we all need to start somewhere…infact I do believe this course is where it all begins for some of us.
A big day in Eden was subsequently followed by a big night, and there were plenty of sore heads on Sunday morning before the drive home. Nevertheless, students eagerly (?) participated in lectures about the surrounding geology of Eden, and even stayed awake for the meteorological exercises along the Imlay Road. Despite the intense pace, students gained a lot of experience and insight into some of the practical aspects of ocean and earth sciences. If this doesn’t hook them we’ll just have to get Dom to organize another trip to Africa!
For a look at some photos from this trip check out the gallery.