Exploring the Geology of New Zealand


For three weeks this January, two DePauw Geology professors, Tim Cope and Jim Mills, are leading a group of 20+ students around New Zealand.
They are excited to return to the Land of the Long White Cloud, especially after their successful Winter Term trip to the southwest Pacific in 2010. Noted for its volcanic activity, earthquakes, and geothermal areas, New Zealand serves as a perfect outdoor classroom for students to explore the impact of geology on the environment.
As a senior Media Fellow and Environmental Geoscience minor, I (Margaret Distler) look forward to sharing this international adventure with you, regardless of your hemisphere.
Feel free to follow us on Twitter: @DePauwRocks


Celebrating Te Pō

Sunday, January 13, 2013 by Margaret Distler

Upon arriving in New Zealand, I've definitely noticed the presence of the Māori, the indigenous Polynesian people who arrived in New Zealand by 1300 A.D. As reflected in the current day names of most cities and streets, the Māori language is also the national language of New Zealand.


While our Winter Term trip focuses more on the country's geological history than its political history, we embraced our Liberal Arts roots and spent Tuesday night learning about the Māori culture at Te Pō, an indigenous evening experience at the Te Puia Māori Cultural Center, in Rotorua, New Zealand. The experience included a traditional pōwhiri (Māori welcoming ceremony), a kapa haka (Māori concert), a Māori feast as well as a trip to the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. During the kapa haka, several students volunteered to learn some of the traditional dance moves, as shown in the video below.




Have you ever participated in a ceremony of a different culture before? If so, what did you take away from the international experience?

Good things happen to geology students who wait

Friday, January 11, 2013 by Margaret Distler

While we initially planned on visiting White Island on Tuesday morning, dicey weather conditions forced us to reschedule our tour for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. After driving about 70 miles from Rotorua (where our hostel was located) to Whakatane (where the White Island boat tours launch from), we were ecstatic to find pristine conditions -- blue skies, no wind, and unlimited visibility. 

After a two hour boat ride in the Pacific Ocean, we arrived at White Island, New Zealand's only live marine volcano. With the help of our tour guide, we hiked around the island, stopping every now and then for explanations of what we were seeing.

Students examine sulphur crystals on White Island, New Zealand's only live marine volcano.During our walk, we were able to see the crater and its spike dome, which is the cooled magma. Jim likened the spike dome to a cork on a champagne bottle, holding the magma back until the pressure is too much and it explodes. As geology students, our tour was particularly important because it provided us with a chance to stand inside an active volcano, which are generally not accessible to the public.

On our boat ride back, we ran across a pod of over 50 dolphins. Immediately, everyone moved to the sides of the boats, cameras in hand. Instead of swimming away from us, the dolphins dove, jumped, and did tricks around our boat for a solid 15 minutes. I don't know who was enjoying it more -- the dolphins or us. Shortly after the dolphin encounter, our tour guide spotted a blue penguin, the smallest penguin in the world, floating nearby. 

We'll get there... eventually

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 by Margaret Distler



While we all eventually made it to New Zealand, over half of the group was stuck at the Indianapolis airport after our first flight on Thursday morning was significantly delayed. As a result, my part of the group missed our connections and spent the next several hours trying to reroute to Auckland, New Zealand. After spending the night in California, we were able to catch a New Zealand bound flight early Friday morning.
Since I already knew why Tim and Jim were stoked to go to New Zealand, I was curious to know why my fellow students were particularly excited for the Winter Term trip. 
Hopefully the answers they provided during our "bonus" hours at the airport will get you excited to hear about all of the activities we have planned for the next three weeks.
As for me, I can't wait to see the scenery for myself. After hearing Jim describe how the scenery becomes more breathtaking with every day, I'm anxious to create my own New Zealand screensavers.





After watching the video, do you have any questions about the trip or New Zealand that you'd eventually like the students to "sound off" on?

Top 10 reasons why Tim & Jim are excited for Winter Term

Thursday, January 3, 2013 by Margaret Distler

While there are a variety of reasons why students are looking forward to the Geology of New Zealand trip, Tim and Jim went ahead and created their own "Top 10" list of reasons why they're particularly excited for their international Winter Term course.
1. Returning to New Zealand. (between Tim and Jim, they've spent about 100 total days there)
2. Seeing active geologic processes.
3. Potentially witnessing a (small) volcanic eruption.
4. Hiking across Tangiroro. (Note that numbers 3 & 4 are mutually exclusive because if something blows up, it's going to be Tangiriro)
5. Taking in the scenery. According to Tim, "It ain't all Lord of the Rings. But it is pretty beautiful and that scenery is real."
6. Seeing the volcanoes, especially White Island.
7. Seeing and touching plate boundaries, which are where two crustal plates come together. (Students will have the chance to put their fingers on the contact)
8. Getting to see, touch, and stand on glaciers.
9. Tubing through dark caves and seeing glow worms.
10. Exposing students to New Zealand.
What are you most excited about learning from this New Zealand-inspired blog?