From 23 May to 4 June, students of the Faculty of Geology of Voronezh State University had their first field practice in the settlement Nikel in Maikop region (Adygea), under supervision of an associate professor of the Department of General Geology and Geodynamics Aleksandr Zhabin. During the practice they lived at the training base of the Southern Federal University on the territory of the training and educational tourism base Belaya rechka.
'The first geological practice is aimed at developing students' skills of geological observation, following geological routes and description of geological objects. It is very important to teach them to organise their work and life in the field, teach them to respect and love nature, enjoy their job as a geologist and understand the role geological investigations play in supporting the country's raw-materials base,' said the Dean of the Faculty of Geology Viktor Nenakhov.
You cannot over estimate the meaning of this practice for first year students. In the field they did not only reinforce the theoretical knowledge they had got doing the General Geology course but also got an idea of the technological cycle of acquiring geological information and the role of field observations in extending general knowledge provided by various sciences about Earth.
The training base Belaya rechka meets all the requirements necessary to reach these goals. First of all, it has a wide range of geological formations found on a relatively small territory. Variety of topographic forms and genetic types, their prominent connection with composition, and structure, and various modern geological processes available for observation provide ideal conditions for teaching the methods of geological investigations in the most efficient way. It should be noted that in a year’s time students of Voronezh State University will have a chance to do their practice at their own academic training base Nikel; construction of which was started with three module living units that were assembled just during the practice.
During their Caucasian practice the young geologists undertook daily geological routes on the key sections and the most prominent geological objects. Thus the students could see in real life what they learnt about in the theoretical course they did during the year. The students visited a lot of places, interesting not only for geologist, but also those who are keen on culture and tourism.
One of the routes included the spot where the stream Rufabgo, which is a 17 kilometre long tributary of the Belaya, falls into the river. The valley of the stream is one of the most spectacular nature sights. The stream expands and contracts and forms, all in all, about 15 waterfalls of different form and size. The valley is represented by carbonaceous rocks that reveal various infolded disjunctive dislocations.
The students were astonished by the route to the Lago Naki plateau that belongs to the Caucasian reserve. Here the students could observe karst processes (caves, funnels, karrens), see old-growth box forests, and deep and narrow canyons that cut limestone rocks.
'The Lago Naki plateau left me speechless. I realised that I was seeing this beautiful sight as a young specialist rather than a tourist. I was pleased to know that I can recognise the geological processes that take place on the plateau. When I was there I felt that I had taken the right decision when choosing the university. And it was not the first time I felt it during the practice. My aunt who recommended me to apply to the Faculty of Geology was absolutely right – the faculty does not only provide education but also a lot of unforgettable experiences – so you get knowledge and a lot of positive emotions at the same time', said a first year student Anastasia Zolotaryeva.
The students with the help of their teachers followed quite a difficult route into a mine adit where during the 1960’s – 1970’s baryte was produced. They climbed to a height of about 900 meters above sea level which was not easy for everyone and some of the young geologists promised to do more exercising when they got home. Druses of black calcite, baryte spherulites with fluorspar and sulphide dusting – are just a few things they had a chance to see.
'When climbing I felt a spirit of unity. Support of your friends, teachers and your eagerness to help others is something you can not forget,' said a first year student Anton Meister.
Traditionally, one of the aspects of the practice is fostering students' patriotism.
'Every year during the practice we visit a memorial complex located eight kilometres from the settlement of Guzerpl. In 1942, a troop of soldiers prevented a regiment of the Edelweiss division from crossing over the pass leading to the Black sea coast. This is a historic place full of heroism. Whenever it is possible we try to cultivate love of our national history and for our ancestors,' said Viktor Mironovich.
The students agree that their first field practice in the Caucasus made them feel more self-confident and also showed how important it is to work as a team, do everything on time and be disciplined:
'I came to Voronezh from Norilsk to enter the Faculty of Geology at Voronezh State University because I knew that the education you get here is prestigious and solid. During the term, I sometimes had trouble understanding the theoretical material, especially on the first try. And then I went to the Caucasus. It lived up to my expectations. I could see the processes I had failed to understand in the natural world and now I can talk about them with no problem. In the Caucasus I got really interested in my future profession, I also realised how important it is to do everything on time: if you give your best you can have some free time, if you don't you will have to work at night,' said a first year student Kumanychbek Zaurbekov.
It happened that the students needed to stay up till late in the evening to handle the information they got at the observation point during the day. Every day the study of the collected material started at 4 pm. The students had to describe the selected samples and fill in their field diaries and keep record in their journals of samples, they also added pictures to their flora and fauna albums, had lectures, and even took exams and tests.
The first field practice is held in such a geologically unique place and leaves such a strong impression on people that it makes the graduates come here again.
'As time passes you realise how important your first field practice was. In the Caucasus we could see things we studied during the year in theory and could not understand completely. But having done the practice we are eager to study, learn more, and share our experience with the rest of the world. What's more, in these ten days we felt the team spirit and have made a lot of friends. During the practice we could see our teachers in a different way. They are very intelligent, creative, understanding people who will always help and support you in a difficult situation and you want to be just like them. The Caucasus has changed us. This is the place you want to come back to over and over again,' said a graduate of the Faculty of Geology Anna Zhavoronkova.