This year I have been lucky enough to land some field class teaching time in New Zealand. The trip is an existing course for Level 3 BSc Geography students which visits the South Island. As a volcanologist this was a little daunting given that the active volcanics are on the North Island! Preparation involved a bit more background reading than usually required, but throughout the trip, which involves such a vast diversity of topic areas, from: glaciers in the Southern Alps, fluvial processes, earthquakes and faulting (and more); I discovered how fascinating the landscape of the South Island is. The trip really does cover an amazing suite of geographical phenomena. The one thing it was missing though, some volcanoes...
A week before the trip was due to leave, rainfall of epic proportions, landslides and a bridge removal on the west coast meant a change of itinerary, and opened up the opportunity to investigate some volcanology. I am always a bit wary of taking students to look at old volcanics as it can sometimes be a bit difficult to see what is going on, not so with Banks Peninsula! Some fantastic lavas, sediments and debris flows of Lyttelton volcano. I must admit that I am indebted to the PhD thesis of Samuel J. Hampton (University of Canterbury) for the field sites (thesis called: Growth, Structure and Evolution of the Lyttelton Volcanic Complex, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand). Over the week and during preparation I have learnt all sorts about the specifics of the geology and evolution of Zealandia, its great to apply knowledge to different locations. This is something I hope the students get out of the trip too. Coming to New Zealand enables them to see such a range of features within such a short space, really enabling them to use the suite of skills and to test their interpretation of landscapes. In an unrelated observation I may have also had the Howard Shore Lord of the Rings soundtrack mulling round my head.
The trip has also been a great opportunity to learn from colleagues who, as far as possible, focus on their specialist fields. I must admit it has been 'cool' learning and visiting the glacial environments, which used to be my favourite topic area during early undergraduate and my A Level days. The response to glaciers to a changing climate in the Southern Alps has been quite eye opening. The chance to see Earth moving processes such as landslides and faulting has been exceedingly interesting as well.
I am currently sat on a glacial moraine, overlooking Mt Sefton, having a thoroughly enjoyable relax, listening to some top tunes and writing this blog post. That's it from me (I'll upload this when I have internet). I have a bit more of this view to enjoy...