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.
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.
After covering the theory in class, it was time for the students to study the stratigraphy for themselves.
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.
Here the students practised measuring the strike and dip of the surface. It was amazing how polished it was!
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.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, the rest of the students continued their hike to the rendezvous point at the base of the basalt ridge.
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.
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!