Looking at one rock isn’t going to help a budding geologist learn. That’s why geology, geography and planning (GGP) make it a point to study as many geologic settings as possible—even if that means trips to other states.
“GGP has a long history — over 40 years — in the department of packing up students and faculty and going somewhere to see different rocks than one can see here in the mid-continent,” said Dr. Doug Gouzie, professor of geology and departmental director of graduate studies.
Most recently, Gouzie, Damon Bassett, senior instructor of geology, Dr. Kevin Mickus, distinguished professor of geology and Dr. Charles Rovey, professor of geology, took 19 undergraduate and one international graduate student to Death Valley National Park in California over spring break.
The purpose of the trip
Students were able to see many geologic wonders on this trip.
California is seated on the San Andreas Fault, where the North American plate and the Pacific plate meet. Missouri is near the middle of the North American plate.
There are also different types of rocks that form in higher temperatures and pressure. They aren’t found in Missouri.
Finally, California has volcanoes. Students were able to climb a cinder cone volcano that erupted a few thousand years ago.
Though this trip’s purpose was to become familiar with different geologic areas, students were able to see where Mickus had previously performed research on how plates break apart.
Students also visited a Borate mine, a Chevron oil field, a Rare Earth Element (REE) mine, solar power plants and the Hoover Dam.
Not just a student spring break
This year, GGP not only invited students, they invited alumni as well. Dr. Stan Fagerlin, emeritus professor, and one alumnae, Dot Loftstrom, joined.
Loftstrom retired last year as the division director of the California EPA.
Gouzie stressed that both alumni were invaluable, sharing new knowledge with students and faculty alike.
Though there was little free time, as they covered 2,000 miles in six days, Gouzie said most down time was enjoyed with each other. Most nights, students would join alumni or faculty to discuss career plans, geology or career experiences.
“There is an old saying in geology that goes something like ‘Those who have seen the most geology make the best geologists,'” Gouzie said. “Our students got to see things that many geology students in the east may only read about in books or journals. We know that experience will make our students better geologists as they are practicing in our profession.”