The trip kicked off an advanced geology course taught by Dr. Leslie Hasbargen of SUNY Oneonta’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences this semester. “There is a persistent need for trained geoscientists with experience in geologic field investigation,” said Dr. Hasbargen, and the Southwestern United States is an ideal place for students to gain insight into how the Earth works via direct observation.
Led by Dr. Hasbargen and four other members of the SUNY Oneonta science faculty and staff, the students examined a wide spectrum of rocks – from intrusive igneous to metamorphic – and saw a variety of landscape processes, including dunes, landslides, eroding mountains and desert pavement.
The group stayed at campgrounds and rose with the sun to embark on field exercises. “It felt like you were a real geologist,” said Elly Powers, a senior majoring in Earth Science Adolescent Education. “You’re using a compass, taking measurements, writing down coordinates, making observations and trying to figure out why something happens the way it does. It’s a much deeper experience than you could have in a classroom.”