28 November 2012

AW 52: Dream geology courses

Posted by Callan Bentley

Shawn at the blog Vi-carius is hosting this month’s Accretionary Wedge. He asks for a geoblogosphere-wide brainstorm on “dream geology courses” – an inspirational topic!

I have a few ideas:

A travel course dedicated to exploring the roots of geological thinking and the geological timescale. It would clearly need to be based in the U.K. and Scotland in particular, with forays into Ireland, France, and the foothills of the Alps. We would visit Siccar Point, Port Rush, and the type sections of Cambrian and Silurian rocks in Wales (as well as the overlapping zone later deemed Ordovician). We would visit The Chalk, namesake of the Cretaceous, the the flysch/molasse sequence that came off the young Alps. Relationships between geology and the production of ale, whisk(e)y, and champagne would receive attention. Homage would be paid at the graves of important geologists of yesteryear – Lyell, Kelvin, and Darwin in Westminster Abbey, as well Hutton, Smith, Sedgewick, and Murchison.

Art for geologists” – a survey + techniques course. Topics would include sketching, fonts, color, pattern, balance, contrast, and photo composition and annotation. All would have the aim of improving the visual output of the next generation of Earth scientists. Often, for instance, I see people take outcrop photos without compensating for the harsh lighting, and the obscuring shadows that fall across the interesting rocks – or else they put their sense of scale (if they remember it at all) smack-dab in the middle of the photo, as if the hammer were the point of the photo, rather than the rocks. Perhaps the course could conclude with a juried exhibition at the host institution.