The rock record of the Turkana Basin contains a history of tectonic movement, volcanic activity, and climatic alterations that have all affected precipitation patterns, river systems, lake levels, and more. Understanding these morphological changes provides a more complete picture and possible factors that have affected early life in this region. Vital to this research are maps and the ability to show features on the landscape and to mark areas of interest that can be relocated. As you can imagine, early field maps in the Turkana Basin were sometimes inaccurate and quite incomplete. How could anyone get much work done back then when the Turkana region once had many wild animals and no roads?
Before looking at rocks and studying physical structures and processes that shape the Earth’s landscape, the first task for the Geology module involved creating a map that represents features within an area. In remote regions (such as northern Kenya) without mobile phone service or detailed terrain maps on GPS units, field researchers will often create a sketch of an area and take photographs until they can later analyze their GPS data on a computer with Internet access. Students began their mapping assignment by making observations of the TBI – Turkwel campus and next, creating a sketch map of the facility. Below are a few examples of this activity and a satellite image taken from GoogleEarth of the campus.