Geology Field School in the Okanagan – Three Weeks of Mapping Successfully Completed

May 27, 2024
Credit: Dr. James Scoates
Spirits remained exceptionally high throughout the 3-week geological mapping course in the southern Okanagan Valley area as part of EOSC 328 Field Geology in May 2024. The course began with a 2-day refresher “Bootcamp” on campus and then the 30 students boarded a bus for the trip to the Oliver region of the Okanagan with stops at the Hope Slide and Keremeos talus slopes along the way.  The instructional team included faculty (Ken Hickey, James Scoates, Joel Saylor, Matthjis Smit) and graduate students (Dylan Spence, Cassis Lindsay, Jeroen Goumans, Carolina Marin Suarez, Ian Goan).  Remarkably, there were no rain days in the field this year with temperatures ranging from a coolish 15°C to a stretch of 4-5 days near 30°C - a few showers and even hail on the final field days were welcome after the heat.
Day after day after day, the students mapped a wide range of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks at different scales and puzzled over their 3D geometry and relationship to regional tectonics as they produced field maps, cross sections, and a compilation map cross the entire area.  Each day involved developing and testing working hypotheses on the lithological variations in the field, contact orientations across topography, and projections down in the sub-surface.  The students collectively rose to the challenge and produced an impressive array of mapping products over the three weeks.
The teaching, eating, and accommodation facilities of the UBC – Teck Geological Field Station were outstanding, including the Peter and Maggie Bradshaw Experiential Learning Centre, the C. Fipke Foundation Dining Hall, the Barry Price Map Room, the Gordon Davis Staff Cabin, and the Weatherhaven shelters (Doug Eaton, Dirk Tempelman-Kluit, Channing Buckland, Rob and Joan Carne, Harry Wheeler lodges).  A new ceiling-mounted projector and portable document camera significantly improved the morning planning meetings and evening debriefs.  And, of course, Jose’s cooking was a daily highlight!
This year’s guests included Laura Lukes (Assistant Professor) and Silvia Mazabel Ortega (Postdoctoral Fellow) of the Earth Science Experiential and Indigenous Learning (EaSEIL) project in EOAS, who inaugurated the Indigenous Voices Collection Mini-Library at the field station, oversaw an illuminating guided visit to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos for interested students on the their day off, and observed student mapping pairs in the field to gain perspective on their sense of belonging and professional identity development during field experiences.  Lindsey Heagy (Assistant Professor) also joined the group for several days to investigate how geophysical datasets might be incorporated into field school in the future.
Photo credit: Dr. James Scoates