Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Onekaka, workshop and field trip

I have to say one of the best things about studying geology is that you get to travel to some really interesting places to go on field trips. So I jumped at the chance to go on my first bonafide field trip in New Zealand with the NZ paleoclimate group. The caveat being that I had to sit through two days of workshop first, before I could justify a couple of days in the field. Fortunately the weather was kind to us, considering it is mid winter in New Zealand. The two days of workshop were cold and wet, but it cleared up nicely for the field trip at the weekend.

The workshop was held at the Victoria University field station in Onekaka near to Takaka in the north of the South Island. The workshop was actually very interesting, and a great way to meet other researchers in New Zealand working on different aspects of climate change over the last 30,000 years. The disciplines ranged from soil scientists, botanists, palynologists, glaciologists, geomorphologists, paleoceanographers and even a climate modeller!

So after two days of lots of discussion it was off to the Cobb Valley - a glaciated U-shaped valley with lots of moraines and peat bogs.... and also lots of sand flies for mid winter?

Field trip.... who is really bored?

Cobb Valley

Then on the second day a couple of us headed out to Whiriraki Beach, just south of Farewell Spit the northern tip of the west coast. This has to be the most spectacular beach I have visited in New Zealand, especially as the sun came out just as we reached the beach. The beach is made up of large sand dunes and large sediment outcrops of fluvial conglomerates which have weather some caves.

Whiriraki Beach - lots of caves to explore

Beautiful example of sedimentary cross bedding at Whiriraki beach
Drew and I spent the entire time geologising.... and decided that as well as these spectacular sediments there was also a fault right at the end of the beach. I will have to check that on the geology maps!
The wonderful seaside bach
The best thing about the four days in the area was that Sam's parents generously let us stay in their rather un-bach-like bach (beach house) just near Farewell Spit. It was so nice to wake up and look out over the sand flats and then sit around the fire at night. Just a shame that we could spend more time enjoying it.

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