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Geological Sciences &
Engineering (Geological &
Petroleum Engineering,
Geology & Geophysics)
129 McNutt Hall
1400 N. Bishop
Rolla, MO 65409-0140
(573) 341-4616
rocks@mst.edu

Missouri S&T GeologySummer Field Trip 2004-South AfricaJune 10-July 12, 2004

 

This summer the Missouri S&T geology summer field camp was conducted inSouth Africa. Twenty students lead by Dr. Robert Laudon of Missouri S&T and Reggie Domoney of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town, South Africa participated in the trip. The geology seen on the trip was nothing short of spectacular. However,according to the students, the highlight of the trip was the cultural exchange.For the last ten days of the field camp we joined 48 students from UWC for field mapping at Laingsburg in the Cape fold and thrust belt, a continental collision zone that occurred when Antarctica collided with South Africa forming Gondwanaland at the end of Paleozoic time. The Cape fold and thrust belt displays fantastic examples of huge exhumed anticlines, synclines and thrust faults that are truly excellent for field mapping exercises.

We also spent about ten days in northwestern South Africa (Kakamas-Upington area) mapping Precambrian metamorphic rocks that had been folded, faulted and invaded by large plutonic igneous bodies. We also visited many of the famous mines of South Africa including:

Vergenoug: An open pit fluorite mine north of Johannesburg.
Implats Platinum Mine in the Merensky Reef of the Bushvelde Complex.
Harmony Gold Mine, Maisomong #5 in the Witwatersrand: The entire group was outfitted with clothes and safety equipment and we all went over 5,000 feet underground where both the temperature and humidity were close to 100.
Kimberley "Big Hole" diamond mine.
Aggeneys base metal mine: Fourteen students went underground at Aggeneys.
Sishen iron mine: Sishen is the largest single open pit mine in the world.

The students will tell you that the geology was great, but the greater experience was to witness firsthand the cultural diversity of this great country.Most Americans have very little idea of what Africa is really like. And it is very difficult to explain Africa to those who have not been there. There is no way to describe:

1. Driving past a township for the first time.
2. Comparing the townships against Camps Bay, Clifton and Rondebosch, some of the more exclusive parts of South Africa.
3. The experience of Robben Island.
4. Seeing the fierce pride and happiness in the South African people as the Olympic
Torch arrives in Cape Town.
5. Driving past a cemetery filled with recent graves--victims of AIDS.
6. Going 5000 feet underground in a gold mine to experience first hand, if only for a few minutes, what the early miners of South Africa experienced.
7. Crossing the Great Karoo and imagining that you are a Voortrekker in a covered wagon.
8. Travelling west from Johannesburg to Kakamas and watching the landscape and vegetation change from Bushvelde to Kalahari desert.
9. Living in a hostel built for black and colored children while down the street is a much more beautiful hostel built for whites--that is empty.
10. Experiencing the friendship of the people who run the hostel.
11. Working in the field with students who grew up in the townships.
12. Seeing the great pride, joy and happiness of the South African people--black, white and colored,
13. While attempting to understand Apartheid, and
14. Witnessing South Africa's struggle to emerge from Apartheid.
15. Seeing that South Africa is not a jungle filled with wild animals.
16. Seeing first hand that Cape Town and Johannesburg are beautiful cities with excellent shopping centers, excellent highways and great food.
17. But most of all (at least for me) is witnessing the extraordinary change that has occurred in South Africa over the past ten years. I did not believe that the Truth and Reconciliation process would work. Real change is occurring in South Africa. It is slow, and it is not easy--but it seems to be working.

These are only a few of the impressions that we as students and faculty witnessed on the trip.The vote is unanimous among the students that it was a really great trip. Some said it was the trip of a lifetime.

Robert Laudon
Professor, Geological Sciences and Engineering
Director, Missouri S&T Geology Summer Field Program
Associate Dean
e-mail: rlaudon@mst.edu
phone: 573-341-4466

Field Camp Pictures 1
Field Camp Pictures 2
Field Camp Pictures 3

2005 Geology Field Camp Information