James Crosby - My Geochemical Life (so far...)

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University of St Andrews

Rio Tinto, Spain (Irn-Bru River Trip)

In June 2017 the epic MSc Geochemistry students at the University of St. Andrews visited the Martian-like Tinto-Odiel River system in Southern Central Spain. This wacky and wild place has been previously used as a test site for Mars to try and detect for subsurface life. We stayed there for seven days, with five days intensive field work and observation coupled with in-house aqueous chemical analysis of samples (and beverages) obtained. In addition to the incredible karaoke/choreographic skills of the visiting students (!), the geochemistry was sensational. In terms of geochemistry, this was a challenging trip as the geochemical system in this area is exceptionally complex, with many dynamic factors influencing spatial and temporal geochemical variations (mining waste input, biological effects, abiotic effects etc...). It is the Iron input from the mine that created the red/Irn-Bru rivers. Big thank you to Dr Eva Stueken and Dr Jonathon Cloutier for ensuring the geochemistry was not too overwhelming. 

University of Manchester - Year 3

Geochemistry Trip to the Island of Tenerife

In Easter of 2016, the legendary BSc Geochemistry students joined students from Environmental and Resource Geologists, and Environmental Science students on a visit to the Island of Tenerife. Here we observed potentially apocalyptic volcanology, dramatic geomorphological alterations resulting from the previous volcanic activity, dynamic aqueous geochemical behaviour in response to spatial variations (see the mobile laboratory, not shot glasses in the pictures), and the unique biological flora (not including the bananas). As my first true exposure to the natural observation of interdisciplinary science, Tenerife is one of the best environments to chose to do this anywhere in the world. Thanks to Prof Roy Wogelius, Dr Bart Van Dongen and Dr Grant Allen for making the trip as enjoyable as possible.

Indepedenent Mapping Project

For six weeks of summer 2015, I travelled with three other Earth Science students (who just happened to be some of my closest friends, but after spending six weeks with me I am not sure if the feeling is mutual). We stayed in a B&B in the tiny village of Aramunt in the sticks of the Catalonian countryside and occasionally ventured out into the town of Tremp and La Pobla de Segur to enjoy some more "cultured" experiences. Overall, the field work was gruelling but fulfilling and an enjoyable six weeks (apart from the 30+ degrees every day). This mapping project is what I would call a right of passage for any serious Earth Scientist.  

University of Manchester - Year 2

Loch Lomond, Scotland

The last field trip of my second year at the University of Manchester. This trip to Loch Lomond, Scotland had the sole purpose of having a hardcore geological observation and data recording component in preparation for the independent mapping project. It was also a character building exercise with weather varying from burning sun to snowing. This environment had beautifully metamorphosed lithology with a nice shoreface environment to observe palaeoenvironment trends. Additionally, there was an abundance of (geological) dykes trending NW-SE throughout and a clearly observable lamprophyre intruding into the shore environment. Thanks to Prof Kate Brodie, Dr Steve Covey-Crump and Dr Alison Pawley for supervising the field trip. 

Although I did learn a lot, what I took away from it the most is that I wanted to do my six-week mapping project in a warm, dry environment. 


Barrême, France

The field trip to France was what I felt like the University telling us to stop being clueless first-year Earth Science students and to start becoming accountable Earth Scientists. This trip to France was set in the beautiful South-East French countryside and has some truly remarkable geology and wine. We covered a wide area of land and many different depositional environments. The standout features were the widely ranging depositional environments, fantastic weather and challenging applications of the structural geology when observing a piggy-back basin from the Alpine orogenic event. Thanks to Dr Steve Covey-Crump, Dr Julian Mecklenburgh and Mrs Amada Edwards for supervising the field trip. 

Pembroke, United Kingdom

A field trip to the coastal outcrops in Pembroke. Here we were taught advanced sedimentary logging skills that were incredibly useful during my independent mapping project. Unfortunately, no surfing or rock-climbing was permitted. Special mention to Dr Merren Jones, the sedimentary guru.

University of Manchester - Year 1

Devon, United Kingdom

First Field Trip as an Undergraduate at the University of Manchester. An introduction to the natural observation of sedimentary deposits. Also, a recipe for disaster with four first year geologists in close proximity to an off-licence. 

The King's School Macclesfield

Winnats Pass, The Cheshire Basin (Alderley Edge), and the Isle of Arran

As part of my A-Level Geology subject, we went on two local field trip in the Cheshire and Derbyshire area; the Cheshire Basin outcropped in Alderley Edge and ancient reef deposits in Winnats Pass, Derbyshire. My favourite field trip I have even been on was to the Isle of Arran after my geology AS-Level had finished. Funnily, while I was there we met Natural Science students from the University of Cambridge on their first-year geology trip, which I am quite confident I will be a demonstrator on for the next few year... Funny how these things can come full circle.