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Earth Systems student field trip to the Etna region, Sicily
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A group of 18 first and second-year students from the Institute of Earth Systems recently participated in an optional two-day field trip to Sicily, during which they explored the various ecosystems of the Etna region. The students are reading for the Institute’s B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems, and this activity was linked to the first-year study unit titled “Dynamics of the Earth: Earth's Living Systems” which introduces students to the functioning of the ecological systems that underpin the survival of all life on Earth.

Students and staff on the slopes of Mount Etna 

 Students and staff near the summit of Mount Etna

Accompanied by members of the Institute’s academic staff, on the first day the students travelled by cable car and snowmobile to the summit of Mount Etna at an altitude of around 3,000 metres. The students were able to view historic lava flows, as well as observing at close quarters lava which was still flowing from the new Southeast crater following Etna's most recent eruption in early March. This summit excursion included a briefing on the monitoring and management of Europe’s largest and most active volcano, and was followed by a visit to the inactive craters at Monti Silvestri at 1,900 metres above sea level.

Students dwarfed by megaliths at Argimusco 

 Two students dwarfed by the imposing megaliths at Argimusco

After an overnight stay at Rifugio Sapienza, the next day was spent studying the geomorphology and biodiversity of the Etna region, including the Alcantara Gorge formed by runoff from Mount Etna and the Nebrodi Mountains. The group also visited the Argimusco megalithic site situated on a high plateau between the Nebrodi and Peloritani Mountains.

Introducing students to new and diverse environments is key to their developing an appreciation of how the various Earth systems function and link together, and field trips, both locally and abroad, thus form an integral part of the course programme of the B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems.

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