Field camps at the Jackson School of Geosciences are back, with all three of the school’s undergraduate field courses — GEO 660, Marine Geology & Geophysics, and Hydrogeology — taking cohorts of students into the field this summer.
In 2020, Marine Geology & Geophysics and Hydrogeology were cancelled due to the pandemic, and GEO 660, the school’s capstone field course, had to be reworked. This included negative COVID-19 tests for all, remote camping, and an accelerated learning schedule.
This year, GEO 660 is still operating under similar precautions as last year, with the course being offered as a three-week session instead of its usual six-week long excursion. Marine Geology & Geophysics and Hydrogeology were put back on the schedule, allowing students to get hands-on experience with discipline specific skills.
Students in GEO 660 traversed the western United States. Their journey took them from Austin to Cody, Wyoming, and back again, with students learning from Jackson School professors and research scientists about the geologic history of their surroundings, and putting their fieldwork skills into practice. This included measuring sections, interpreting stratigraphy, structure and the depositional environments of various sedimentary rocks, and the origin and petrology of igneous and metamorphic rocks.
For the Marine Geology & Geophysics field camp, students set off for the Texas Gulf Coast. They spent a week in Port Aransas alternating between collecting seismic data at sea on a chartered boat and the Jackson School’s research vessel, the R/V Scott Petty. They also collected sediment samples, took salt marsh cores, and surveyed the shoreline using aerial data collected by a drone. Back on dry land, they learned to process and interpret their data.
And in Hydrogeology, students took to local field sites at Austin’s Hornsby Bend and the Jackson School’s White Family Outdoor Learning Center, a 266-acre field site in Dripping Springs. The course’s field work including pump tests, cream gauging, well-logging, water sampling and mapping.