Camping trip to Lothagam – Day 1

|Camping trip to Lothagam – Day 1

On Thursday, Dr. Feibel and guest professor Dr. Bob Raynolds, took the students on a geology camping trip to Lothagam, situated a few kilometres south of the Institute.

Dr. Raynolds looking at the stratigraphy of a sandbar in the Turkwel River.

Dr. Raynolds looking at the stratigraphy of a sandbar in the Turkwel River.

Lothagam is an important site for geologists, palaeontologists, anthropologists and archaeologists because it is made up of deposits spanning from the Late Miocene all the way through to the Holocene. These deposits are rich with fossils and archaeological material; and while they can tell us a lot about the different plants and animals that inhabited the region over time, the deposits have been key to our understanding of the geological transformations that have occurred in the Turkana Basin as part of a dynamic rift valley system.

A view of Lothagam towards to Western ridge.

A view of Lothagam towards to Western ridge (click to enlarge).

After covering the theory in class, it was time for the students to study the stratigraphy for themselves.

Heading into the outcrops...

Heading into the outcrops…

On the first morning, the students were taken on a short hike across the the outcrops and into the desert to a fault, where millions of years of tectonic friction had produce a smooth and shiny rock face of sheer proportions.

On top of a ridge the students stop to take in the view.

On top of a ridge the students stop to take in the view.

Here the students practised measuring the strike and dip of the surface. It was amazing how polished it was!

Students measuring the strike and dip of the rock surface.

Students measuring the strike and dip of the rock surface.

The students were then left to explore the outcrops on the way back to camp, where they sat down for a tasty picnic, followed by a nap under the shade of the Doum Palm tree.

Nap time!

Nap time!

In the afternoon, the students split into groups to map a transect East to West across the ridges and ravines, to the basalt formation. Sarah was a little ill, so she remained at camp in the able hands of our lovely staff and the company of Kima, the sock monkey.

Sarah rests at camp with Kima for company.

Sarah rests at camp with Kima for company.

Kailie, Kate and Erica say goodbye as they set off on their hike.

Kailie, Kate and Erica say goodbye as they set off on their hike.

Trekking in Lothagam is great fun, but no easy task as it involves a lot of scrambling up and down steep slopes. All the students are experts in embodying the spirit of the mountain goat in these situations, but this time we had one minor casualty – Janina pulled a muscle in her leg as she was scrambling up a hill. Help was very close at hand, though, and she got back to camp safely in no time.

Francis and Dr. Feibel take Janina back to camp.

Francis and Dr. Feibel take Janina back to camp.

Meanwhile, the rest of the students continued their hike to the rendezvous point at the base of the basalt ridge.

The intrepid explorers pose for a group photo at the rendezvous point.

The intrepid explorers pose for a group photo at the rendezvous point.

From here Dr. Feibel took them to see an archaeological site en route back to camp, where the kitchen staff were preparing the evening meal.

Dr. Feibel takes the students to the pillar site - an archaeological site around 4300 years old.

Dr. Feibel takes the students to the pillar site – an archaeological site around 4300 years old.

Elijah prepares the camp dinner, while the students are out.

Meanwhile, Elijah prepares the camp dinner.

As the sun began to set the students set up their sleeping quarters under the stars – bed rolls, and mosquito nets suspended from ropes tied between the two field vehicles; and after a delicious dinner of soup, lentils, rice, and oranges, the students settled down to hear Dr. Raynolds’ bedtime stories about his many adventures in the field. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day!

By | 2017-01-04T18:04:55+00:00 February 15th, 2014|Field Schools|Comments Off on Camping trip to Lothagam – Day 1

About the Author:

Hi! I am Kat Warren and I am the Teaching Assistant for the Spring 2014 field school. While I am here I am also involved in the African Fossils Project (africanfossils.org) where I am 3D-scanning modern African fauna, fossils and archaeological material. I am a recent graduate in Archaeological Science from the University of Sheffield and my current interests lie in the evolution of cognition, and primate behaviour as a means to understand the cognitive frameworks of our earliest ancestors.