For undergraduates with a particular interest in marine geoscience, exposure to scientific field techniques and meeting like-minded undergraduates can be sparse in initial years of study. This is why the 2022 ANZIC Marine Geoscience Masterclass was such a wonderful opportunity. 

Hosted by geoscientists from Macquarie University in Sydney, undergraduates from Australia and New Zealand experienced nine days jam-packed with field trips, field data collection, lab sessions, tours, seminars, and everything in between. Two Australian students, Emily Conn from University of Queensland (UQ) and Issi Port from University of Tasmania (UTas), reflect on their experiences and impacts on their future study.

From left: Issi Port (with harbour mud on his face), Sarah Codyre, and Emily Conn

Our first official day, held at the University of Sydney, kicked off with ANZIC Director Dr Ron Hackney introducing us to the International Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), its history, and how ANZIC fits into its story. He also brought core replicas from previous IODP voyages, including a 1997 transect core marking the K/Pg boundary, collected north of the Chicxulub Crater! Professor Jody Webster took us through fossil coral cores collected on the JOIDES Resolution, and Dr Maria Seton guided us through constructing our own ship-time drilling plan with GPlates. 

The next two days were hosted at the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences (SIMS), and we had a blast travelling via water taxi. We also experienced valuable boat time collecting sediment, plankton, and CTD water readings in Sydney Harbour. We analysed these samples under microscopes, along with logging harbour sediment cores collected in 2019. Lab time was followed with presentations from prominent Australian marine researchers and was capped off with kayaking around the foreshore (see below).

ANZIC Masterclass and tutors having a blast experiencing the harbour via tandem kayak!

After many enjoyable days in Sydney, we hit the road and spent four days on the South Coast of NSW, learning the stratigraphy of the Sydney Basin. Day trips saw students slip, slop and slap, scramble on seaside cliffs, and sidestep swells, all for science! We were taught to identify fossils, bioturbation, and sedimentary structures, to reconstruct the paleoenvironment these beds were deposited, and connect these to modern analogues. Students worked their way through lithostratigraphy in chronological order, visiting the Wasp Head Formation, Snapper Point Formation, Wandrewandian Siltstone, and other Shoalhaven Group formations (see below).

The final field day saw students visiting a Permian/Triassic (un)conformity under the Sea Cliff Bridge, Clifton (see below). These towering sedimentary cliffs gave students a larger perspective of lithologies previously visited, as well as the chance to see the Permian Illawarra Coal Measures and its boundary with overlying Triassic sedimentary sequences. 

The diversity and comradery between students provided a supportive and holistic learning atmosphere; exposure to different facets of marine geoscience challenged all students, and fostered opportunities to share knowledge and to learn from each other. Emily and Issi did not spare a moment to share anecdotes from their voyage aboard the R/VInvestigator in 2022.

Emily loved being in an environment filled with people passionate about the sea and rocks. She particularly enjoyed mock-planning a drilling expedition and deploying instruments from the boats in the harbour, as she hopes to lead a voyage in the future. Emily’s main aspiration is to study submarine volcanoes for her Honours, which can be done through marine sediment cores made of tephra. Therefore, the field days were an incredibly valuable review and development of her sedimentary skills and knowledge. 

Issi most enjoyed the field days, absorbing information from George, Stefan, Inna Kampoli and Lauren Gorojovsky on the local geology. Being born in Sydney, but now a Hobart-based geologist, Issi had never previously been exposed in-depth to the Sydney Basin stratigraphy and palaeohistory. The richest learning experience in the field for Issi was learning to visualise and interpret paleo-sedimentary depositional environments through field observations. He thinks this skill will not only prove him well in his upcoming Honours project, but also a valuable skill for future geological studies. He is also excited to bore his non-geology friends in Sydney with all he’s learned, as he walks the infamous, heavily trafficked, Bondi to Bronte walk in the morning. 

Issi and Emily had a wonderful time at the 2022 ANZIC Masterclass, and along with their undergraduate student cohort, would like to thank ANZIC IODP, Macquarie University, University of Sydney, SIMS, and all the wonderful organisers for this incredible opportunity!