This field class takes place in the province of Almeria, in southeast Spain in the area between the towns of Mojacar and Carboneras, on land that stretches from the Mediterranean coastline inland to the Cabo de Gata-Níjar National Park. Two weeks of generally sunny and warm weather provide great conditions for our students to learn how to observe, understand and map geology in four dimensions. This area is a superb choice for this exercise, not least because it is part of the plate boundary between Africa and Europe, with a wide variety of rock types and structures, from extrusive volcanic rock to fault rocks, to evaporites formed in the desiccated Mediterranean basin.
The Almeria field class entails three mapping exercises carried out at different scales, each designed to develop abilities to visualise and understand geology and geomorphology in 3D. Students on the trip learn to record geological data on a map and in a notebook, to construct geological cross-sections and generalised vertical sections.
The work is organized in small groups, with plenty of supervision by expert staff, but students quickly learn how to work independently, making their own observations to test hypotheses they develop themselves. The final group work on a 1:25,000 scale map develops the individual’s ability to work effectively in a team.
Staff keep a careful eye on the students throughout these mapping exercises and we are always available in the field for advice and feedback, but the chance to work independently in the field is what students appreciate most. This is important training, providing all the necessary skills for the final year independent mapping project, but also providing very significant transferable skills, for example related to project management, that enhance the employability of all the students who complete this class.
Some of the feedback we receive:
“Well taught. Very intense time constraints. Large area covered in two weeks. Enthusiastic teaching”
“Excellent turnaround of maps”
Field class leader: Prof Peter Burgess