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Virtual field trip to the Esla Nappe (Cantabrian Zone, NW Spain): delivering traditional geological mapping skills remotely using real data

de Paz-Álvarez, Manuel I., Blenkinsop, Thomas G. ORCID:, Buchs, David M. ORCID:, Gibbons, George E. and Cherns, Lesley ORCID: 2022. Virtual field trip to the Esla Nappe (Cantabrian Zone, NW Spain): delivering traditional geological mapping skills remotely using real data. Solid Earth 13 (1) , pp. 1-14. 10.5194/se-13-1-2022

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The restrictions implemented to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 and 2021 have forced university-level educators from around the world to seek alternatives to the residential physical field trips that constitute a fundamental pillar of Geoscience programmes. The field-mapping course for second-year Geology BSc students from Cardiff University was replaced with a virtual mapping course set in the same area as previous years, the Esla Nappe (Cantabrian Zone, NW Spain). The course was designed with the aim of providing the students with the same methodology employed in physical mapping, including such skills as gathering discrete data at stops located along five daily itineraries. Data included bedding attitude, outcrop descriptions with a certain degree of ambiguity, photographs and/or sketches, panoramic photos, and fossil images. Data were provided to the students through georeferenced KMZ files in Google Earth. Students were asked to keep a field notebook, define lithological units of mappable scale, identify large structures such as thrust faults and folds with the aid of age estimations from fossils, construct a geological map on a hard-copy topographic map, draw a stratigraphic column and cross sections, and plot the data in a stereonet to perform structural analysis. The exercise allowed for successful training of diverse geological field skills. In light of the assessment of reports and student surveys, a series of improvements for the future is considered. Though incapable of replacing a physical field course, the virtual exercise could be used in preparation for the residential field trip.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Publisher: European Geosciences Union
ISSN: 1869-9529
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 January 2022
Date of Acceptance: 11 November 2021
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 21:24

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