June 26, 2017

We Probably Should Have Waterproofed That: Welcome to Dominica!

Posted by larryohanlon

Clemson visits Rosalie Beach, Dominica.

By The Clemson Geopaths Team

Welcome to Dominica, the Nature Island! Located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a tropical island with nine active volcanic centers and is a great place to study geology. A group of four students and two faculty from Clemson University are here for two weeks to investigate the island and collect data as part of our geoscience education program, Clemson Geopaths (www.clemsongeopaths.com). Our project’s goal is to engage students in geoscience activities and promote pathways for undergraduate students to enter the geosciences. On this trip, we have two geology majors (Sawyer and Stephanie) and two non-geology majors (Emily [Physics] and Katrina [Environmental Science]) collaborating on the creation of geoscience activities that will be used to pique students’ interest in geology and promote earth science literacy.

One of the goals for this trip is to collect images and video to create interactive experiences and virtual reality (VR) applications in order to foster interest in geoscience across all college majors. This includes collecting 360-degree images and videos as well as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) images and videos to immerse students in new and exciting places. One of our favorite parts is getting to work with a UAV. We discovered that operating a UAV at the beach is not as easy as one would imagined! It requires multiple students running all over the rocky beach to keep a strong signal for the pilot.

Emily (left) and Katrina (right) set up the UAV at the Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center.

One of the first stops on Day One was to see in person many of the first lessons you learn in Geology 101. There are many outcrops visible on the western side of the island that illustrate the island’s volcanic history, show evidence of fluvial change, and even lithified coral heads suggesting island uplift. Our goal is to film interviews with Clemson faculty at several of these locations to show students how geologists see the world and extend learning outside of the traditional textbook.

A block and ash outcrop peaks out from behind jungle vegetation on the walk to Champagne Beach.

While here in Dominica, we are staying at a beautiful field station, Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center (ATREC). We have been able to meet other students and professors from all over the U.S. who we are sharing the station with. On one of our first days out we ran into another team studying a section of the watershed here on Dominica. We got to interview them about their research, as well as their thoughts on geology, how important it is to all sciences and how it impacts local and global social problems and people and their understandings.

Check back tomorrow to learn more about Champagne Reef, the underwater fumaroles that make it unique, and how to create engaging experiences for students who are unable to make the trip! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @ClemsonGeopaths.

Breakfast view from Archbold station.

The Clemson GeoPaths Team is headed by Dr. Stephen Moysey and Dr. Kelly Lazar who work under a NSF grant for geoscience education, with a goal of promoting geoscience through interactive experiences. This summer, the students involved include Stephanie, Emily, Sawyer and Katrina.