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Overseas Placements (2012)

Over the summer of 2012, a number of students travelled overseas to undertake placements and carry out fieldwork as part of their university degree. GfGD followed three of these students, all from the University of Leicester. There work, in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, was reported though blogs and photographs. The lessons they learnt from their work have a lot to teach other students thinking about doing work overseas.
Through following these placements, GfGD:
  • Helped these students to disseminate and share the knowledge that they developed through the opportunities.
  • Shared with the wider geoscience community an understanding of how good geoscience knowledge can better contribute to international development.
  • Helped other students consider what skills are required by geologists in order to undertake effective development
  • Promotde the positive international outcomes of students/recent graduates undertaking such placements, and expanding their experience base.
Details of those student we will be following can be found below, and you can read about their work on the 2012 placement blog page...

Laura Westoby - Indonesia - Natural Hazards

Name: Laura Westoby
Age: 21
Occupation: Currently studying for MGeol degree at University of Leicester
Interests: When not studying for her degree, Laura works as a café assistant at the theatre, and likes reading, meeting new people and exploring!
Project Description: Laura will be travelling to Indonesia to undertake a placement with Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Java. As part of her MGeol degree at Leicester she has to complete a report in her 4th year. Laura has decided to focus this report on Mt Merapi and how it affects the local community. During her visit she hopes to meet members of the community who have learnt to live with the danger of Mt Merapi and investigate processes that occur in the community before, during and after an eruption. Laura also hopes to see how research is conducted at the University and how this information is relayed to the community. When she returns to Leicester, Laura will integrate her visit with a GIS project and a literature review to create her report.
Thanks are due to Dr Sugeng Sapto Surjono and Dr Dwikorita Karnawati for making her visit possible.
Laura Says... "This is a fantastic opportunity that will hopefully help me develop confidence when visiting new places, meeting new people and travelling alone. It will also introduce me to a side of geology that really interests me – the social aspect and one that hasn't cropped up very often throughout my degree. I will hopefully have the chance to learn some new skills whilst out there, such as how they monitor the volcano and field mapping, and also integrate myself with the local culture – I will be staying for a month!
Hopefully after my visit a connection with Gadjah Mada University will be established allowing more exchanges to take place in the future, both from the UK and also from Indonesia. With an exchange scheme established it will hopefully be easier for students to find funding in advance of a visit."

Greg Smith and David Cavell - Solomon Islands

Greg Smith
Age: 20
Occupation: Currently studying for MGeol degree at University of Leicester
Details: Greg is an exceptional and talented student (David's words!) from Stockton-on-Tees, with a keen interest in volcanology. He also contributes articles to the student magazine Experimentation in his spare time.
David Cavell
Age: 20
Occupation: Currently studying for MGeol degree at University of Leicester
Details: David is a keen young geologist originally from South Wales. As well as making the trip out to the Solomon Islands, David recently mounted a week long expedition to the famed Troodos Ophiolite in Cyprus, having secured University funding alongside five other students to do so. He has recently completed mapping in Ullapool, Scotland as part of his third year modules. Outside of University he enjoys rock climbing, politics and campaigning.
Project Description: Greg and David will be working alongside the Geological Survey Division of the Solomon Islands, out of their office in Honiara, Guadalcanal for a period of 5 weeks.
They will be undertaking fieldwork on Savo Island, an historically active volcano in the Solomon Islands arc. It lies just 35km away from Honiara, the capital of the Solomon’s, so assessing the hazards it may pose is crucial to safeguarding lives and infrastructure in the area. Historically it has killed thousands of people. Once on Savo, they will be staying in Lemboni village, situated on the NE coast of the island. With this as their base, we will study the block-and-ash flow deposits (those left by pyroclastic flows at previous eruptions) in the vicinity to get a better idea of Savo’s eruption products, their behaviour and the hazards they pose to the islands population. This work will be divided into two aspects:
  • The first one involves the study of the coastal fan deposits created by block-and-ash flows as they have exited the various valleys on the island (we will be focusing on the Rembokola valley above Lemboni village, whose deposits have been allocated to a period of activity during the mid-19th Century). Through logging, sampling and studying these deposits Greg and David hope to better understand the nature and behaviour of BAF’s on Savo and how they may behave in future eruptions.
  • The second project involves assessing the risks such hazards may pose to coastal villages such as Lemboni. This will involve analysis of how hazards move down the Rembokola valley and how a major life threatening hazard would interact with the villages and local environment. This could lead to the construction of a hazard assessment map to indicate “safe zones” in the area where villagers may go to seek shelter from such a destructive event. Greg and David will also aim to assess the preparedness of local residents by surveying the population of Lemboni, as well as its infrastructure, to test the strength of its evacuation plans and local education about the dangers that Savo poses.
They will also be looking at buildings at risk of being hit by tsunamis within the capital, Honiara. Savo lies just off the coast of Guadalcanal, facing the capitol, and faulting within the volcano could lead to sector collapse into the sea when it next erupts, leading to a mega-tsunami event. By assessing factors such as age and building material, they hope to be able to identify which areas are most at risk.
David writes... "Greg and I have been practicing our Pijin (the local dialect), which we hope will allow us to interact better with the villagers and more easily understand their perceptions and worries about the volcano. Both of us hope this work will be worthwhile and give as much benefit to the communities we visit as it does to us."
Thanks are due to the Solomon Islands Geological Survey, notably Douglas Billy, Head of Geological Mapping, for making their visit possible.