We’re still very busy this month preparing and running virtual fieldtrips while covid restrictions prevent most real fieldtrips from taking place. Following on from our earlier excursions, in which we’ve toured the Zagros (many times!), the Betics in SE Spain, and classic UK geology in SE Scotland and NE England, our next trip returned to the Zagros once more, though this time to SE Turkey, and it was a trip with a difference!
Most of our virtual trips are based around a pre-defined itinerary, in which we guide participants between individual outcrops where we can demonstrate and discuss specific features and geological themes (i.e. closely comparable with a typical real-world fieldtrip). In contrast, this project, developed in collaboration with Newcastle University, has been a week-long virtual field mapping course, where the undergrad attendees were tasked with making a geological map and interpretive cross-section over a classic Zagros anticline. To do this, the students had to define their own itinerary and decide the best strategy for collecting adequate field data – throughout the week they had to take field notes, and gradually built-up an overall understanding of the stratigraphy and structure by collating data from many outcrops.
There’s no substitute for real field geology – but our experience is that this form of virtual trip is currently helping to fill a much needed gap caused by the covid crisis – and could also be a very useful supplement even when we’re at last able to run real trips once more!