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International Exchange

Mount Meager- Foreign Fieldwork

26 September 2019

Early on Saturday morning I packed my bags with all my brand new fieldwork gear ( literally brand new- after learning about this fieldtrip on Tuesday  had to go on a shopping spree and buy a coat, a sleeping bag and various other bits and pieces ) before heading off to uni at half 7.

On my way to uni

I wasn’t feeling too excited about the fieldwork honestly. I barely slept on Friday night, and fieldwork always makes me quite anxious. I’m always worried as I have what seems to be a horrible combination of asthma and anxiety. I never used to think of these as related but then I realised they were heavily related; as soon as I feel myself becoming short of breath my brain goes into panic mode- sort of a positive feedback mechanism and it just spirals out of control (it also works the other way around). This time I was even more worried than usual Cardiff as I I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t need to worry.

We were going on an overnight trip to the local (For Canada) volcano- Mount Meager; The site of Canada’s most recent major explosive eruption (2360 years ago). My first fieldwork to an active volcano!

A view toward Mt Meager’s hidden vent

I arrived at the meeting spot expecting to see a coach like usual but instead came across three or four huge pick-up trucks. This is when I knew it was going to be nothing like Cardiff. I met up with my friend, we loaded our stuff into one of the trucks and were told to jump in- when I say jump in I mean it, the step to get into the thing was half my height.

Our truck- I look miserable in the background. Unsure why, this was taken as we were leaving for home.

After successfully managing to hoist myself into the ridiculously large vehicle we were off. Briefly stopping for a tea break and meeting the sweetest dog in the world. The five hour journey felt short as we got to know the others also in the car and before we knew it we were up in the mountains. We were lucky enough to spot a black bear in a field (sadly it was too far away for a photo). That (and the dog) made the whole weekend worth the while.

We spent Saturday afternoon studying pumice quarries and pyroclastic density current deposits, the size of the deposits was impressive to say the least, some clasts the size of a small house! We learnt about the huge amounts of energy required to transport them and discovered that the eruption was highly explosive, similar to Mt. St. Helens- 1980.

Storage at a pumice sorting facility

We headed to the campsite and set up tent for the night before eating (pre-cooked pasta in my case) and lighting a campfire which we spent the evening huddling around getting to know each other.

At around 11:30pm we headed to bed I attempted- unsuccessfully- to try and get a good night’s sleep and was up and ready by seven after a restless and chilly night. We packed our tent and were back in the car by 8:30 when we headed to one of the most incredible places I have ever seen.

A very wet me at the Lilooet Canyon

We parked the cars and walked 10 minutes through dense forest until we came to a cliff above the Lilooet River Canyon. We studied the geology of the cliffs, but no-one could take their eye off the view, even in the mist and the rain it was beautiful.

Misty views of the Lilooet

 We stopped at five more localities studying various volcanological deposits and piecing together the story of the eruption that formed them before jumping back into the cars and beginning the long drive home.

This time the drive really did feel like five hours. We broke it up with a quick stop at Tim Hortons- my new favourite place- before eventually making it back to UBC at around 19:30.

I headed home and was fast asleep by 21:00, it was a tiring but wonderful weekend.

Three things I am looking forward to tomorrow:

1. Starting my research paper on Kilauea

2. Talking to Sam

3. Working out some Igneous Petrology theory I am confused about


  1. Joe O'Reilly

    Sounds like a good weekend! Off to my first induction lecture today and slightly jealous you are already doing such incredible things!!

  2. Sam Mordey-Jones

    Looked like a very good weekend, shame there weren’t any wild moose about! Although I’m sure a wild bear definitely made up for it x

  3. Paul O'Reilly

    Sounds great, these are the things you travelled 5000 miles for. Are there any other fieldwork trips planned ?

  4. Sheila O'Reilly

    Looks incredible ….. (laughed at your comment on having to negotiate the big step up into the vehicle …. being vertically-challenged myself I know what it’s like)….. Lovely dog … looks like a Newfoundland breed… can see the Labrador resemblance.
    Was a bit concerned when I saw picture of tent ..especially with Bears around !!!! What an amazing experience you are having – this will be ‘forever memories’.
    Looking forward to next Blog xxxx
    Love Nan ‘n’ Grandad
    Ps Grandad said ‘looks like you are on Holiday’ xxxxx

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