About the trip

The idea forms

In the fall of 2010, a group of geology students met for a social evening. As the evening progressed, discussion led to one of their favorite topics: traveling. As some of the students started reminiscing about previous trips they had made together, everyone got excited about the topic. The casual conversation then turned to a more serious level and a crazy idea surfaced: a geological field trip around the world! Anything is possible, right? The next step was to convince other fellow students and professors about the idea – well, that part was easy.

The plan

We now have a detailed plan, with 22 undergraduate students from the Department of Geosciences and Geography at the University of Helsinki taking part in the adventure. We also have professors and senior teaching staff on board. They will serve as guides and gurus and will share this task with experts from universities and research institutes at the target destinations. The duration of the trip is one month, from the 15th of August to the16th of September, 2011.


Yosemite (Picture taken on Vasara's fieldtrip in 2006).

Our first stop will be a three-day stay in Iceland. We will tour the popular golden circle, which is a scenic loop, about 300 km, from Reykjavik into the inner parts of Iceland and back. This has many geologically interesting sites to offer, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Thingvellir, the Gullfoss Waterfall, and geysers in Haukadalur Valley. As our guide, we have our Professor of Geology and Mineralogy from the University of Helsinki, Ragnar Törnroos, who has visited these sites many times before. In Iceland, we will also enhance our understanding of the exploitation of geothermal energy, which is relevant to environmental geology, hydrogeology, and economic geology.

From Iceland we head to the southwestern U.S. (California and Nevada) for a 12-day tour of Phanerozoic and Precambrian geologic sites in the western U.S. Cordillera, the Basin and Range Province, and the Colorado Plateau. Professor of Petrology and Bedrock Geology, Tapani Rämö, of the University of Helsinki along with his colleague, Dr. James P. Calzia, of the U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, will serve as our guides for this leg of the trip. Since 1994, they have carried out active collaborative research on the Precambrian geology and crustal evolution, Mesozoic subduction, and Miocene and Recent extension in the Mojave Deseart – Death Valley region, and will share their expertise with us. The main emphasis will be on the petrology, tectonics, and crustal evolution (Paleoproterozoic to Pliocene) of the southwestern U.S. This experience will help us to deepen our understanding of geological processes that have affected the formation of the bedrock back home in Finland. Many of our target sites are located in famous national parks: Yosemite, Death Valley, and Grand Canyon. We will also examine in detail the San Andreas Fault, which is a continental transform fault and responsible for the earthquake activity in the California region.

Death Valley Salt Flat

Sunset In Death Valley (Picture taken on Vasara's fieldtrip in 2006).

Our last stop is a 12-day stay in Hawaii, where we will first visit Oahu and then later on, Big Island. In Hawaii our principal guide will be Senior Curator, Docent Arto Luttinen, from the Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki. He has a passion for volcanoes and comprehensive expertise in the study of basaltic magmatism on a global scale. On Oahu, we plan to visit the University of Manoa’s Geology and Geophysics Department and learn about Oahu’s geology. On Big Island, we will visit Volcanoes National Park, which holds two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. These active volcanoes and their vicinity serve as great examples of oceanic intraplate volcanism and related geological processes. The island’s terrain holds various lava formations and lava types. We also hope to visit the Mauna Kea Observatory, where countries from all over the world have their observatories, at an incredible altitude of 4025 m.

These are just some of the highlights we’ll experience on the trip. To see a rough schedule of the field trip, go to the route tab.

The objective of the trip

The objective of the field trip is to integrate theoretical understanding with field experience abroad for comprehending the greater whole. We have chosen geohazards as the main theme of the field trip and, in order to acquire deeper knowledge of them, we have planned a comprehensive site agenda of key locations. Through this experience, we will gain expertise on different types of geohazards that are important in varying geological environments. The field trip will also provide us with the opportunity to network with experts in several fields of geology.

Vasara ry.

Vasara ry. is a Student Club for the Department of Geology at the University of Helsinki founded already in 1937. Every year, Vasara ry. usually organizes two field trips, one in Finland and one abroad. For this megatrip, there are, in total, eight responsible persons who will see the field trip through from the planning stage to completion.

  • This fieldtrip is sponsored by:

  • We thank all our sponsors!