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Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM


GRAVLEY, Darren M.1, WANDRES, Anekant1, BOVA, Samantha C.2, HOUSE, Brian3, KRAVITZ, Katherine A.4, SPERA, Stephanie2, WALSH, Daniel5, WINDHAM, Cameron J.6, ZUZA, Andrew7 and DOHANEY, Jacqueline1, (1)Geological Sciences, The University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand, (2)Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, (3)Department of Geological & Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Building 320, Stanford, CA 94305, (4)The Department of Geosciences, Smith College, Clark Science Center, Northampton, MA 01063, (5)Department of Geosciences, Williams College, Clark Hall, 947 Main St, Williamstown, MA 01267, (6)Geology Department, Pomona College, 185 E. 6th St, Claremont, CA 91711, (7)Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, Snee Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853,

Designing a successful overseas research experience for undergraduates comes with many challenges but offers many rewards. The 2010 results from 7 undergraduate projects in New Zealand represent an evolving international research model developed by Frontiers Abroad.

Overseas research for undergraduates typically involve a U.S. contingent (students and supervisors) conducting summer fieldwork in a foreign location and laboratory and/or data processing back at their home institution. Here we present something different: a rare semester study abroad program with research as the central part of the student’s overseas 6 month experience. Some of the early challenges in designing this research-focussed program included: 1) providing the necessary geologic background for students to perform research, 2) creating a team environment, 3) allowing students to propose their own research but being realistic about what they can achieve in a 6 month abroad experience, and 4) ensuring that students gain the necessary skills to conduct future independent geologic research (i.e. senior theses).

The program starts with a 5-week field camp that exposes students to New Zealand geology and, at the same time, provides them with the necessary mapping and field techniques to conduct their own independent field research. In 2010, students mapped and sampled lava and pyroclastic deposits on the flanks of Mt. Ngauruhoe (the fabled Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings) as a team but were asked to develop their own unique research projects. Students wrote research proposals in the form of a short and snappy blue-sky grant proposal that was peer-reviewed by one of their colleagues (as was all subsequent written work). Tutorials and laboratories were designed for students to prepare rock samples for thin section and XRF whole rock geochemistry, share findings from their literature searches, share ideas on how to process their data, and compile a comprehensive GIS database and map of their field area. This approach stimulated teamwork but at the same time encouraged individual creativity. After 6 months, a comprehensive model of Mt. Ngauruhoe emerged with topics including: magma evolution models, remote spectral analysis of lava flows, controls on physical volcanology, and the development of a volcanic hazard map.

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