Fieldwork time again… this time we were headed for Cyprus. This was my last fieldtrip with my undergraduate course and we were determined to make it a good one!
MGeol 2017 arrived into Paphos Airport in the dark, and made our way along the motorway to Limassol. Checking into our hotel in the middle of the night, we dived straight for our beds to get some sleep. A grey sky over the coastline greeted us the next morning, as we drove to the bakery to grab some breakfast. Once fed and watered, it was time to face the fieldwork.
I always feel clumsy getting back into fieldwork. It can take a while to find a good routine at each location. I’m not complaining – fieldwork is definitely my favourite part of studying geology!
The aim of this trip was to look at the Troodos ophiolite, a section of oceanic crust thrust up onto the continent. Ophiolites allow us to see examples of rocks which are found beneath the oceans – rocks we would otherwise never see. They can tell us a lot about sea floor processes and about how the oceanic crust is built.
We spent day the first couple of days investigating the top layers of the ophiolite; hydrothermal deposits, lavas and sheeted dykes. The outcrops where spectacular, some even features in out textbooks! We discovered that the best way to test for umber (a type of hydrothermal deposit) it to lick the brown, fissile samples. If they stick to your tongue you have a positive ID! Deducing the history of lava flows is always fun, and we had plenty of chances to looks at sheet flows, pillow lavas and feeder dykes.
Its not a fieldtrip without a challenging walk to a beautiful view point, and Cyprus was no exception. Taking a break from sketching sheeted dykes at Madari Ridge, we found a spot high within the Troodos mountains with view across the whole Island.
We also investigated the nature of the sedimentary cover of the ophiolite. I’m not a huge fan of sedimentary rocks, but I had a go at logging some sandstones and took the chance to learn more about depositional environments. At Maroni, we found a floor of stunning gypsum crystals.
As the week progresses we delved deeper into ophiolite sequence. We investigated the nature of the petrographic Moho, and had a look at different types of gabbro. I had a few flash backs to my dissertation mapping camp as we described the mineralogy and texture of layered gabbro. Mantle peridotites also made an appearance. We visited Amiantos Asbestos Mine, abandoned in the 1970s when the dangers of asbestos became apparent. Veins of asbestos, mainly chrysotile, were clearly visible in the serpentinite.
We spent the morning of our last day looking at younger lavas and limestones on the beautiful southern coastline. Once our work was complete, we dived into the Mediterranean Sea for a swim at Aphrodite’s brithplace.
We enjoyed the afternoon off in Paphos, exploring the roman ruins and the tourist shops along the seafront. There were some pretty good ice-cream places too! We spent the last night in the pub, with many of us opting to stay up chatting and get straight on our early morning bus, while others grabbed a few hours sleep. A short flight and long coach journey later and we were back to the rainy normality of Plymouth.
Thanks is owed to our lectures, Tony and Michelle, and to the MGeol 2017 cohort for a fantastic final fieldtrip!
Now it is time to enjoy the last few weeks of this term, and of formal teaching. Next term we start our research projects and start planning what to do after graduation!