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Earth Systems student field trip to Madeira
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Group photo on coastal cliffs 

Students and staff on a guided hike at Ponta de São Lourenço, Machico, the eastern-most peninsula of Madeira island 

A group of 25 undergraduate students from the Institute of Earth Systems, accompanied by members of staff, recently travelled to Madeira for an intensive week-long field trip focused on the management of island environments. The second- and third-year students are currently reading for the Institute’s B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems. This activity, which took place between 29 October and 5 November 2016, is one of a series of fieldwork exercises undertaken both locally and abroad during their 3-year programme of studies.

 Students on coastal footpath

The arid coast environment of the volcanic S. Lourenço Point hosts important rare and endemic species, as well as numerous seabird colonies 

Madeira is the largest of a group of volcanic islands situated in the Atlantic Ocean, off the northwest coast of Africa. During their field visit, the students explored sites across the island while working on various exercises studying aspects of the island’s geology, geomorphology, ecology, biogeography and landscape, and analysing similarities and differences between Maltese and Madeiran archipelagos. The students also engaged with locals and with students and faculty from the University of Madeira, to discuss socio-political aspects of island life, and participated in a one-day conference on Tourism and Island Cultures hosted by the Research Centre for Regional and Local Studies of the University of Madeira. Professor Godfrey Baldacchino, University of Malta Pro-Rector for International Development, was the keynote speaker at this event.

Group visit to the marina 

A local geologist explains volcanic formations at Quinta do Lorde, a resort near Caniçal on the S. Lourenço Point

Fieldwork on mountain in the mist

 The  programme included a visit to the high-humidity environment of the laurel forest at Fanal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring the oldest laurel trees on Madeira

 Inland walk

The semi-arid climate of the S. Lourenço Point and its exposure to northerly winds explain the low vegetation and lack of trees which distinguishes this area from the rest of the island 


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Last Updated: 25 November 2016

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