On May 27, the class observes and takes notes as workers from Buffalo Drilling Company operate a rig to drill one of the wells. The company employs many UB alumni.
Joe Gardner (green hard hat) and Adam Lobur (far right) from Buffalo Drilling Company operate the drilling equipment. Water pumped into the hole helps to keep the machinery cool and to remove sediment from the hole, says Chris Lowry, associate professor of geology, who co-teaches the course.
Senior Hayley Martinez takes a close look at a rock core — a cylindrical sample of rock extracted from below ground using a drill head that looks like a giant straw. “We’re lucky to be able to see this today,” Martinez says. “Not a lot of people get this opportunity. In geology, you need these experiences to be able to record stuff, take good notes, communicate and work with others. Geology exists outside of the classroom.”
A rock sample. As part of the well-drilling activity, students examined the types of rocks emerging from beneath the ground. “They’re recording the geology underneath the campus, the rocks that come up in the process,” says Tracy Gregg, associate professor of geology and director of the 2021 field camp course.
From left: Seniors Katie Lovell, Fletcher Daniel, Louie Manzella and Noah Dobson investigate pieces of a rock core. Tracy Gregg is in the background, in a blue hard hat.
David Sheridan takes notes. “Geology is not philosophy. It’s a little more of a practical science, so going out and looking at rocks and tapping on rocks and watching people drill is really helpful in seeing how geology is done,” Sheridan says.
Notes, notes, notes. Making and recording detailed observations is a vital part of geology. In addition to observing the well-drilling, students in the summer course will visit and map other sites of geological interest, such as Eighteen Mile Creek.
Adam Lobur from Buffalo Drilling Company monitors the drilling equipment. The geology department developed a local geological methods course this summer so that students would not miss out on experiential learning opportunities: “We’re doing this because of COVID,” says Chris Lowry (not pictured). “We normally go out west. Last summer we had to teach it all online, and we thought that hands-on is better.”
Tracy Gregg (not pictured) says that while the pandemic motivated the department to keep the course local, it’s possible that future field camps will alternate between traveling out west and staying in Western New York to give students options.
Published June 2, 2021
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Thanks to all the alumni who donated to the 2018 crowdfunding effort, which surpassed the target! With those funds we purchased quality radios for each student mapping team to carry in the field for safety purposes, as well as some additional Brunton compasses and other items needed to supply Field Camp. 2018 and 2019 were the first two years where students carried the radios, and we were able to address injuries (thankfully, all minor!) and to radio instructions when there were weather issues such as lightning. In 2019 we started another crowdfunding effort to raise money for a seismometer to use for geophysics field training. Some funds were raised, but we've put a hold on that effort so that we can restart it at a better time.
COVID-19 unfortunately caused the cancellation of the 2020 Field Camp - the first year in many decades without the course. However, several of our faculty members are stepping up to the plate and rapidly developing a virtual mapping course. More than a dozen of our seniors were relying on Field Camp to fulfill their graduation requirements, and this virtual alternative will allow them to do so. We also plan to use the virtual version to provide advanced mapping courses for students in the future who are unable to participate in Field Camp. Rest assured, though, that we intend to resume standard Field Camp in 2021, assuming the pandemic is under control by then.
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