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Earth science students journey through northern New England

Published on June 25, 2024

Earth science students journey through northern New England

EES Students in front of The Bubbles, Jordon Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

EES Majors (L to R) Matthew Tardella, Charles Coccoli, Harrison Moss, Hunter Piscatelli and James Bragg-Phillips above Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine

EES Students with Professor Cunningham on Black Mtn, New Hampshire White Mountains

EES Majors (L to R) Riley Matto, Alyssa Kendrick, Kayla Redanz-Swett, Kaylee Slosek and Rebecca Kennedy above Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine

Photo by Drew Hyatt

Photo by Drew Hyatt

Twelve students from Eastern Connecticut State University beheld many environments on a 12-day scientific excursion through New Hampshire and Maine in late May. Sponsored by the Department of Environmental Earth Science (EES), Professors Dickson Cunningham, Bryan Oakley and Drew Hyatt guided students through high mountains, deep caves and sprawling coastlines as a part of their “Summits and Seashores” course. 

“My field course experience was the best two weeks of my educational journey and something I'll never forget,” said sophomore EES major Kaylee Slosek. “I made lifelong friends on this trip, and I look forward to the next one.” 

According to Cunningham, field courses participants are assigned to pick a research topic related to the natural phenomena within the locations they’re set to explore. During May’s course, students explored and discussed the locations’ regional attributes, including bedrock geology, mineral resources and the region’s glacial history, and environmental sustainability. 

“The purpose of all of our EES global field courses is to introduce and reinforce earth and environmental science subjects using field examples,” said Cunningham. “Our trips are designed to be interdisciplinary in scope and so we weave together various related topics because so much of our understanding of earth history, earth processes and the natural environment involves connecting diverse observations to data and theory in different subject areas.” 

Senior EES major Riley Matto explained that the trip broadened her perspective on her studies and gave her “a better understanding of what I learned in the classroom.” 

“I was able to create great friendships with my classmates and strengthened my relationships with my professors. I regret not taking this opportunity in years prior,” said Matto.

Photo by Kaylee Soslek

Photo by Drew Hyatt

EES students above Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine

EES students and Professor Cunningham at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Acadia National Park, Maine

EES Majors (L to R) Kayla Redanz-Swett, Rebecca Kennedy, Kaylee Slosek, Alyssa Kendrick and Riley Matto atop Mt Cardigan, New Hampshire White Mountains

EES students and Professor Oakley at The Flume, Franconia Notch, New Hampshire

EES Majors and Professors Cunningham and Oakley on Mt Pierce, southern Presidential Range, White Mountains, New Hampshire. Mt Washington is in the distance

Amidst towering summits and waterfalls, the group primarily traversed the terrain on foot. Highlights included an 11-mile hike in the Presidential Mountain range of New Hampshire, Mt. Washington and exploring the beauty of Maine’s Acadia National Park. 

“Some loved Mt. Cardigan's bald summit and fascinating igneous geology, while others enjoyed the day spent in Franconia Notch,” said Cunningham. “Some also thought Acadia National Park and the coastal walks between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs was the most enjoyable day in terms of scenery, coastal landforms and geology.” 

Junior EES major Harrison Moss emphasized Acadia National Park as a diverse and beautiful ecosystem, adding that exploring it with his peers enhanced the experience. 

“I learned a lot about pegmatites, mining, geotourism, coastal geology, glaciers and many other earth-related topics. I also got to see the beautiful terrain of the White Mountains and Acadia,” said Moss. “This field course was a highlight of my year as it afforded me the opportunity to get out to the field and see geologic features with my classmates and professors.” 

Cunningham explained that the students’ exploration of New Hampshire and Maine was instrumental in grasping the significance of their field, especially in terms of geological evolution and environmental impact. 

“New Hampshire and Maine provide superb bedrock exposures that elucidate the origin and evolution of the ancient northern Appalachian Mountains,” he said. “The diverse geology and remarkable mineral resources are especially interesting and allow students to visualize first-hand many topics taught in lectures and during on-campus labs.” 

He continued: "Most importantly, geology comes to life in the field and the bald summits, steep stream valleys and waterfalls, rocky coastlines and mineral quarries provide wonderful clear exposures of the region's bedrock geology. 

“The bedrock provides important clues for understanding earth evolution, mountain building processes, magma ascent, volcanism and landform evolution. Thus, northern New England is a classic natural laboratory for studying environmental earth science.”

Written by Elisabeth Craig