Stories in the stone: Geology students venture into the field

Publication date
Friday, 15 Apr 2016

If rocks could speak, they would have a lot to say. Even without a voice, they’re great story-tellers. So long as you know how to listen.

“I didn’t really get interested in geology until the later years of high school, when I realised that you can tell a story from rocks,” says Eleni Ravanis, an ANU student who has just completed a nine-day geology field trip at Wee Jasper in NSW.

As part of the field trip students are learning how to map the type and structure of rocks to understand what has happened in past environments.

In a limestone structure, students see a story that begins under the sea. In a fold or a fault, they understand the shifting of the Earth’s tectonic plates.

“It’s pretty cool to infer that just from looking at a rock,” says Eleni.

The field trip was also the ultimate Aussie experience for Dutch exchange student, Jesse Zondervan.

“We’re staying in Wee Jasper at a homestead in the bush with little sheep running around,” he says.

Each morning the students leave the property and four-wheel drive across steep terrain to the upper reaches of Lake Burrinjuck. They drive past impressive folds and ripples in the Earth before arriving at a geological formation called the “Shark’s Mouth”.

The students learn a range of techniques in mapping and structural geology and they admit the course can be demanding.

“It's a steep learning curve but I've definitely improved my skills in the field,” says Jack Dennison, a former Sydney-sider who moved to Canberra for the well-regarded Earth sciences program.

But the best part about the course is the chance to interact with other students and make new friends.

“It’s been a very intense few days but we’re all in it together,” says Eleni.

“I’ve made better friends with people I didn’t really know before this course. We all help each other out.”

And as the students retreat to their homestead to share the stories of the rocks, they have the chance to share some of their own.

If you would like to hone your geology skills you might like to try the Introduction to Structural and Field Geology course.