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Extended Study to Chile

GEOL 420: Solid Earth Processes

Ensenada, Pucon - Chile
Villarica Volcano
Caviahue - Argentina

On-campus course followed by three weeks in Chile

Director: Professor Karen Harpp, Department of Geology
On-campus course: Fall 2010
Tentative travel dates: December 26, 2010 – January 16, 2011
Course credit: One credit. Both components of the course (on- and off-campus) are required for credit.


GEOL 220 (Volcanology) or permission on the basis of previous coursework in geology, geography, and other departments. Students must apply through the instructor.

The primary goal of this extended study is to carry out field studies of volcanic processes and hazards in central Chile for three weeks. The first phase will involve field visits to a selection of volcanoes in the region (Osorno and Calbuco), accompanied by local volcanologists who will provide interactive lectures. During the second phase of the trip, we will be based in Caviahue, Argentina, where we will refine our field skills by working on a single volcano, Copahue (Chile), known for its crater lake and hydrothermal activity. The techniques we will use include granulometric analysis, mapping of ash and lava distributions, identification of volcanic materials, and chemical analysis of the hydrothermal waters and minerals, all essential to assessing eruptive hazards. For the final segment, we will relocate to Pucon, Chile, where students will carry out individually designed research projects centered on Villarrica Volcano, one of Chile's most famous, active, and spectacular volcanoes. The foci of the projects will range from strongly geological (collection of volcanic samples for subsequent labwork on campus) to cultural, hazards-related, or historical questions.

Students will need to be prepared for extensive fieldwork, including a range of weather conditions. The focus will be on gathering data and learning how to make field observations, so that most of our work will be outdoors. Lodging is likely to be rather rustic as well.

The on-campus segment of the course will be focused on preparing for the field experience and will precede the extended study. We will learn about the techniques used to understand the solid Earth, with emphasis on volcanic systems. Methods we will study include volcanic monitoring techniques (gas, plume, and thermal monitoring for prediction of eruptions, lava chemistry, heat flow, geochronology, field observations, and lava flow dynamics) and plate tectonics (earthquake observations, ground deformation, and gravity.) Techniques will be examined in the context of specific case studies of volcanoes through readings and discussions of current geological literature.

Estimate of student costs for the Extended Study to Chile (2010)