Field of Science

AW 27: What is the most important geological experience you’ve had?

The topic of this month's "Accretionary Wedge" is an "important geological experience."

However I was not sure if I could pick up on a specific event, so I decided, inspired also by the contributions of other geobloggers, to choose a period instead of a single situation.

During my years of study I enjoyed to enrol lectures on other faculties aside earth sciences. Mainly for personal interest, but also to profit from the possibility to dive (superficially) into other subjects of natural sciences.
Somehow I came across to botany, specifically exercises in the taxonomy of angiosperms. It was somehow disillusioning to follow the descriptions given in the books of microscopic differences between the bristles of different plant species.
Also the lecturer did n
ot help much, following step by step the numbered lists until, occasionally, you arrived to a conclusion. It's seemed that botany wasn't the right thing for me, even only to try it.

This changed suddenly; the next lecture was hold by a new visiting lecturer - with a complete different approach. Even if the step by step procedure of plant determination was inevitable, the mood was noticeably better, there was an introduction at the beginning of the lessons about the characteristics of the plants we should observe, and inevitable errors perpetuated by us beginners were not ridiculed, but explained and resolved.

It happened by chance that this professor was actually a palaeobotanist, specialised on vegetation history of prehistoric human settlements, asked to take on the course of systematic botany. At the end of the semester he announced that he would hold in the next year an introduction to palaeobotany - so I thought after the positive experience I would give it a try.

I found the use of remains of modern plants and animals to interfere the depositional environment of sediments fascinating - botany so introduced me to Quaternary Geology!

I become intrigued by the stories that mostly unconsolidated sediments of lake bottoms and swamps can tell by their content of organic remains - some of them even recognizable by a geologist.

Fig.1. Who says that only geologists experiences the fascination of collecting rocks and bones... case of a caddisfly.

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