delware environmental institute

UDaily: Students explore "geologist's playground," gain field experience during spring break

UDaily: Students explore "geologist's playground," gain field experience during spring break

In California’s Death Valley, the weather challenge in early spring is not extreme heat; it’s the wind. Gusts at speeds of 60 miles per hour can burst through campsites, blowing over unoccupied tents and pelting the surroundings with sand.

“The dust storms toward evening were a little intense,” said geological sciences graduate student Daniel Hubacz, who experienced such conditions on a University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) field trip over spring break. “But other than that, it was great.”

Hubacz was among 18 graduate and undergraduate students who joined instructor Claudio Berti for a 1,400-mile, weeklong adventure through the Sierra Nevada mountain range and into the lowest point in North America, Death Valley. The students saw geological formations firsthand and practiced scientific observation techniques while gaining a sense of the rustic nature of fieldwork.

CEOE’s Department of Geological Sciences intends to organize a spring break trip every year moving forward for students enrolled in a semester-long field geology course. The excursion is generously subsidized by alumni donors, such that this year students only had to pay about $150 for travel expenses.