Student feedback on our field trips

1st year field trips

As first year students we come across different challenges. Field trip was one of them. But this was a fruitful mind-blowing challenge. We learnt a great deal about the Earth and its geological aspects. Also, we gained so much experience on team/group-work. I believe most if not all students are now able to practically think and work faster. The other fundamental lesson we learnt was to be more inquisitive to the lectures. Our lectures were very welcoming and they taught us a lot.

Andile Mkandla, BSc Earth Science student

2nd year trip to Ganzekraal

"This in-field experience that a geology student encounters at Stellenbosch University is the second year trip to Ganzekraal. The trip has a specific focus on structural geology but also touches on sedimentary features and identifying different lithologies of the Malmsbury Group. For most, this is one of the most memorable trips throughout an undergraduate’s lifespan as it provides an insight to practical geology outside of the class-room. In addition to this, it also provides the necessary foundation to become better acquainted with peers, demonstrators and the lecturers. As this is the first time many people learn to map, it is initially confusing and a little bit frustrating. These frustrations quickly surpass once everyone is sitting by a fire at night, chatting away. Many obstacles are expected and a few hiccups may occur throughout the week but all in all it ignites an interest and passion in geology which can’t be taught in a class room. "

Sabine Henry, 2nd year student

3rd year field trip to Laingsburg

Laingsburg.pngThere is always some trepidation before embarking on a field trip, the nerves start to kick in as the buses are being loaded up, cautiously you start to wonder whether you packed enough warm clothes, what the work is going to be like and how we are going to survive at least four days in the field from sunrise to sunset. Our accommodation was that of a primary school boarding house. This offered the promise of solid walls, a comfortable bed and to our absolute delight, hot showers.

On arrival at the school we were informed as to which area our team would be mapping, each of the five areas had three teams of two. The days in the field went by faster than any of us expected. In the mornings it was a mad rush to get ready and be on the bus by 7am. Bundled up in the warmest clothes we had, we would arrive at our allocated mapping sites just as the sun peaked over the hills. Armed with our hand lenses, hammers, field notebooks and mapping material we set out to try and gain some understanding of what the geology was doing.  ​

Depending on who your guide was for the day you either disappeared off into the open expanse of the terrain on your own or had some help to figure out what it is you were looking at. Some days were better than others, but whenever you seemed to hit an all-time low, one of the assistants designated to the trip, would pop up seemingly out of nowhere offering their knowledge and guidance.

These excursions may seem like a real uphill battle, yet once you start and get to tackling the work, it can be done and the time flies so fast that to some extent it becomes easier.While the work was difficult and the days were long there is something special about being out in the field, breathing in the fresh air, admiring the amazing views and the occasional sightings of the local wildlife, such as springbok and klipspringers. The best aspect of these excursions is developing lifelong bonds that are forged through going through tough times and good times. 

Yaa Agyare-Dwomoh and Courtney Pollock

Honours field trip 2016

 ​“I believe that was the most valuable learning experience I have had since I have been at varsity. For me, it was great opportunity to see, add context and put, the information we have studied over the past few years into perspective. The mine visits were definitely the most valuable aspect of the tour, getting the real world insight which puts our class ahead of any other institution in the country.
In my opinion fieldtrips are the best way to formulate your own understanding and opinion on what happened so many millions of years ago. If only they weren't so costly, I am sure most would spend the entire year in the field!”

S. Teek, honours student

"This trip was of so much value, it opened my eyes to the field of geology. Our visits to the different mines were phenomenal and what was fascinating about it all was getting to see all the things we’ve been studying about in reality.  For me, it was my first time ever being in the mines (both underground and openpit), the way we were treated by staff members especially at the Royal Bafokeng Platinum mine was simply amazing, we got to see how ore is transported from underground through the conveyer belt and we also got to ride on the conveyer belt as well. We visited the following mines: Sibanye Gold Mine, Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine, Exxaro Coal Mine, Sheba Gold Mine and Mogalakwena Platinum Mine. Out of all this mines, my most favourite was the Sheba Gold Mine that is in Barberton were the oldest rocks in the World are found. We also got to visit Golden Quarry which was discovered by Edwin Bray in 1885, that’s where the first gold was found. My favourite area we visited also was the Vredefort, where we saw pseudotachylites which formed as a result of frictional melting. The honours field tour in general was a great learning experience and it made me more determined to work in the mining industry. Thank you to the Department of Earth Science for organizing this trip for us." B. Kolwane, honours student 

​pseudotachylyte outcrop at Vredefort​

"As South African geology students we get told countless times, by our very experienced international lecturers, how lucky we are in being able to study geology in a country with some of the most spectacular, rarest and oldest rocks in the world… However, until honours we weren't able to see sites like the Bushveld Igneous Complex and the old rocks of the Barberton Greenstone belt of which we were taught so much about. This changed on the honours tour where we finally got to see these world renowned geological sites as well as some massive mines. We were exposed to various types of geological careers at mines and how important geologists actually are and in addition see how they mine certain commodities differently and experience the conditions of working 2.8km underground. We were also had the chance study pseudotachytes in some of the oldest granitic rocks on earth in the Vredefort impact structure where Archean basement rocks was exposed.

students at Geo-trail komatiite outcrop

Except for visiting and studying these geological sites we got the opportunity to see breath taking views of South African landscapes in the Bushveld and Low-veld. This included a tour of the famous Geo-trail where we got to many roadside rock samples including komatiites first classified by South African twin brothers.

Therefore, this tour was a very valuable experience in being able to study rocks first hand in the field learn amazing mining geological knowledge that you can never experience in a classroom."

Viljoen & Viljoen