Geography Idol (Fieldtrip diary)

Fig. 1: The fieldtrip was destined for the King’s River close to the village of Hollywood (Co. Wicklow) http//

‘You’re going to Hollywood Baby’

Wrapped up and ready to brace the cold February winds the challengers, with their shovels and oranges in hand, set off to try-out for the 2014 Geomorphology fieldtrip.

Fig. 2: The team arriving at Kings River & assessing the recently flooded floodplain.

Most of us newbie physical geographers were a little apprehensive about the trip – what was lateral accretion again, would we spot the terrace and how do we calculate the stream power – all this fluvial talk left some of us feeling a touch sea sick.

Collecting data on stream velocity and power

Regardless of our little to no formal experience in the field, the team took to the task like a duck to water. Well, Sarah and Stephen [with the help of their waders] were the ducks in this metaphor!

Albeit we lost two oranges in the process the up-side was that we managed to avoid the loss of fingers or toes to the cold…..even with the promise of a ‘first’ if that was to come about!

The earlier sea sickness feeling soon faded and we found our sea-legs as we began to see and feel our way through the floodplain. Sediments, lateral or vertical deposits, paleo-stage indicators and the remains of paleo-channels, no longer sounded like double-dutch to a non native speaker!

Fig. 4: Sample of bank/levee deposits.

Its easy to forget the value of practical fieldwork and ‘getting your hands dirty’ experiences when you spend most of your time in the lecture theater, library and books. Fieldtrips like these remind geographers that physical geography isn’t that daunting after all!

The benefits out-weigh the loss of feeling in your toes and cheeks, trust me!

Fig. 5: Taking a core sample from a paleo-channel.

In the end we may not have ‘gotten discovered’ in the Hollywood sense of the meaning on our trip; but we did discover a new found appreciation and understanding for geomorphology. My advice to the next team off to Hollywood is wrap up – give them wellies you have lying around a day out – and be prepared to be amazed by all things fluvial!

To sign off I’d like to thank our supervisors Dr. Mary Bourke and Andrea Waitz for their patience and expertise in helping foster this new found appreciation.

Authored by Sinead Moran, undergraduate student, Department of Geography, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College, Dublin


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