Geology Trip: Pembrokeshire

London F26

In late February 2016, MPW’s Geology A2 class travelled to Pembrokeshire for four days in the field. In any scientific discipline empirical research is key to understanding natural processes: in Earth Sciences this research typically takes the form of fieldtrips. Over the course of our stay, students were afforded the chance to apply principles learnt in the classroom to the real world, test and formulate hypotheses regarding the formation of unfamiliar geological outcrops and simply get up close and personal with some world-class geology.

The aim of our excursion was to develop the essential practical skills outlined in the A2 syllabus, to complete an assessed coursework module and, of course, to hunt for some unusual Carboniferous fossil corals. The Pembrokeshire coast a popular destination for tourists but it nevertheless remains a treasure-trove of rolling cliffs and rocky shores boasting some 186 miles of unadulterated geology. 

The class spent two and a half days in the field observing Palaeozoic sedimentary successions, which had later been deformed into kilometre-scale folds during the Mesozoic. Finally, modern geomorphological processes had eroded the core leaving a characteristic bay-and-headland coastline. The course explored concepts such as palaeogeography, the interaction of sedimentation and tectonics and structural deformation. Exercises were ‘hands on’ (rain or shine) and students learnt how to systematically explore an outcrop, produce rock descriptions, take structural measurements and hone their sketching skills.

After each day students enjoyed a slice of cake and coffee in the former stately home, now turned field studies centre, of Orielton. Following a hearty three-course dinner, an evening ‘synthesis hour’ ensured concepts covered in the day were reviewed and clarified.

Martin Suttle